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Supreme Court releases for May 17, 2019

24 May 2019 10:15 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions May 17:

Appeal No. 113,869: State of Kansas v. Stephen A. Macomber

Archived oral argument video

In a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court affirmed Macomber's Shawnee County jury conviction for involuntary manslaughter for the 2010 killing of Ryan Lofton outside Lofton's southeast Topeka home. A majority of the court rejected Macomber's claim that he was entitled to a new trial after a district court error led to the jury receiving an incomplete description of the applicable self-defense immunity law. This was Macomber's second trial for the killing. In 2014, the Court of Appeals ordered the second trial after it reversed his first conviction for intentional second-degree murder. The charges resulted from Macomber's crime spree in 2010 that resulted in numerous convictions obtained over the course of multiple prosecutions in both Shawnee County and Marshall County. Lofton's killing was part of those occurrences.

Appeal No. 116,586: State of Kansas v. Robin Smith

Archived oral argument video

The Supreme Court ordered Johnson County District Court to resentence Smith with directions to exclude a Missouri municipal ordinance violation from her criminal history score. Smith pleaded guilty in 2016 to trafficking contraband in jail. As a part of her sentencing, the district court used the ordinance violation to give her a longer jail term. The court held today the district court erred because the Kansas sentencing guidelines existing at the time Smith was sentenced precluded a sentencing court from scoring a municipal ordinance violation when the convicting jurisdiction's municipal code failed to designate that violation as either a felony or misdemeanor but used those designations for other violations.

Appeal No. 119,270: In the Matter of the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by Rictor Bowman 

Archived oral argument video

The Supreme Court dismissed a criminal prosecution against Bowman for rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, and four counts of witness intimidation. During his trial in Saline County District Court, Bowman's 4-year-old alleged victim was called to testify but did not respond when asked to take the required oath. Because the child's testimony was the core of the State's case, the district court judge declared a mistrial and then decided Bowman could be tried again. Bowman appealed and argued that allowing the State a second chance to try him violated his right against double jeopardy.

A majority of the court agreed with Bowman's argument and dismissed the case in a per curiam opinion. A plain reading of the mistrial statute did not permit the district judge to declare a mistrial, and Bowman's case did not fall under an exception in the Kansas double jeopardy statute.

Justice Marla J. Luckert dissented from the result and reasoning of the majority. Her dissent was joined by Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss and Justice Caleb J. Stegall.

Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today

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