The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:
Appeal No. 117,450: State of Kansas v. Leslie H. Roberts Jr.
Summary calendar; no oral argument
The Supreme Court affirmed the Anderson County District Court's summary denial of a motion to correct illegal sentence filed by Roberts. Roberts had been sentenced to a hard-25 life sentence after previously pleading no contest to rape of a child under the age of 14. In his appeal, Roberts conceded that summary denial was appropriate, but he raised a new issue for the first time in his appeal. Roberts argued that the handling of his pre-plea competency issue deprived the district court of jurisdiction to sentence him. The Supreme Court rejected Roberts' argument. Any defect in Roberts' competency proceeding was merely procedural, and a procedural defect in a competency hearing does not deprive a district court of jurisdiction to sentence a criminal defendant.
Appeal No. 115,110: State of Kansas v. Brian A. Murrin
Archived oral argument video
The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals judgment affirming Murrin's convictions in Clay County District Court for felony possession of marijuana, misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal trespass, and interference with law enforcement. On appeal, Murrin argued that the district court judge should have instructed the jury that voluntary intoxication was a defense to the criminal trespass and interference with law enforcement charges.
The Supreme Court agreed with Murrin that the instruction should have been given. The jury had been instructed that it needed to find that Murrin "knew" that he was not allowed on the property he trespassed on and that he "knew" that the arresting officer was a law enforcement officer. Thus, each crime contained an element that could have been overridden by voluntary intoxication. But, on the facts of the case, including that Murrin's jury rejected a voluntary intoxication defense with respect to the other two charges, the court held that the error was not reversible.
Appeal No. 115,634: State of Kansas v. Lindsey Nicole Blansett
Archived oral argument videoIn an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court affirmed Blansett's convictions for the premeditated murder and aggravated assault of her young son, Caleb Blansett, in Sumner County. The evidence at trial revealed that Blansett stabbed her son to death while she was suffering from a psychotic episode. On appeal, Blansett argued the jury instructions about her mental disease or defect defense were clearly erroneous because they did not list premeditation as a culpable mental state. In the alternative, she argued the instructions told the jury not to consider how her mental illness impacted her ability to premeditate the crime. Based on its recent decision in State v. McLinn, 307 Kan. 307, 323, 409 P.3d 1 (2018), the court held premeditation is not a culpable mental state that can be negated by the mental disease or defect defense. In addition, the court held the instructions did not prevent the jury from considering how Blansett's mental illness might have affected her ability to premeditate.