Kansas Supreme Court
constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—due process—jury instructions
state v. craig
geary district court—affirmed
No. 119,660—may 1, 2020
FACTS: Craig was charged with first-degree murder under theories of premeditated murder and felony murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and criminal possession of firearm by a convicted felon. After district court instructed jury on felony murder, premeditated murder, and intentional second-degree murder as a lesser included offense of premeditated murder, jury found Craig guilty of both first-degree felony murder and second-degree intentional murder. Craig filed motion for new trial because jury convicted him of two murder offenses for the same killing. District court denied the motion and instead sentenced Craig on the more serious felony murder. Craig appealed claiming the two murder convictions for the same killing violated his due process rights, and after jury was discharged the two guilty findings were legally irreconcilable. He also claimed the district court should have instructed jury on voluntary intoxication given evidence of Craig’s use of alcohol and marijuana and unclear communication shortly before the shooting;
ISSUES: (1) Two murder convictions for the same killing; (2) voluntary intoxication instruction
HELD: District court’s jury instructions in this case are examined, finding them to be legally correct. Craig failed to show that his first-degree murder sentence was imposed in violation of due process right to have jury find each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, or that jury’ first- and second-degree murder verdicts were so irreconcilable as to require a new trial. Irreconcilable verdicts in State v. Hernandez, 294 Kan. 200 (2012), are distinguished. District court properly sentenced Craig on the first-degree felony-murder conviction.
Question of whether conspiracy to commit a robbery is a specific intent crime, making a voluntary intoxication instruction legally appropriate, remains unresolved in this case because such an instruction was not factually appropriate. Evidence about Craig’s state of mind does not establish any impairment that deprived him of the ability to form the requisite mens rea; no evidence of any memory loss or inability to recall events before or during commission of the crimes; and Craig never relied on voluntary intoxication in defending himself.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5109(b)(1), -5402(a)(2), -5402(d), -5403(a)(1), 22-3414(3), -3601(b), -5205(b); K.S.A. 22-3421, 60-2101(b)
constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence—Fifth Amendment—motions
state v. lemmie
Saline district court—affirmed
No. 119,439—may 1, 2020
FACTS: For shooting and killing a victim during a robbery, jury convicted Lemmie of first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, criminal possession of a firearm, fleeing and eluding, and interference with law enforcement. In pretrial motion to suppress evidence obtained and derived from his phones, Lemmie alleged a detective obtained the phone passcodes in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. District court denied that motion, finding disclosure of the passcodes was not compelled and the codes were not testimonial. Lemmie appealed, claiming: (1) the detective’s testimony about Lemmie giving her the phone passcodes violated his constitutional right against self-incrimination; (2) district court erred by admitting two statements made by a coconspirator after Lemmie shot the victim, and by asking State if the contemporaneous statement hearsay exception applied; (3) insufficient evidence supported his first-degree murder conviction; (4) district court erred by admitting K.S.A. 60-455 testimony that Lemmie was upset over a missing methamphetamine pipe.
ISSUES: (1) Fifth Amendment—testimonial status of passcodes and passwords; (2) hearsay evidence; (3) sufficiency of the evidence, (4) K.S.A. 60-455 evidence, (5) cumulative error
HELD: Kansas Supreme Court has not yet addressed the “rich and rapidly developing area of the law” of the testimonial status of passcodes and passwords, and does not do so in this case. Any possible constitutional error arising from district court’s refusal to suppress evidence that a detective obtained phone passcodes from Lemmie was harmless. No incriminating evidence from the phones was introduced at trial.:
District court did not err in admitting the coconspirator’s two statements. Even assuming the statements qualified as hearsay, they were admissible as statements of a coconspirator, K.S.A. 60-460(i)(2), one of the grounds on which the district court judge relied. A district judge admitting evidence on two grounds, including one originating with the court, when the one already advanced by a party would suffice is not judicial misconduct.
State provided more than ample evidence to convict Lemmie of first-degree murder.
No abuse of district court’s discretion arising from admission of K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455 evidence of Lemmie being upset over a missing methamphetamine pipe. No error in district court’s conclusion that the missing methamphetamine pipe was relevant to motive.
Cumulative error doctrine does not apply where there is only one assumed nonreversible error with respect to passcode testimony.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455, -455(a), -455(b); K.S.A. 60-404, -455, -460)d), -460(d)(1), -460(d)(2), -460(i)(2)
criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions—sentencing
state v randle
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 119,720—may 1, 2020
FACTS: Randle and two others fired shots into apartment, killing a victim inside. Randle was convicted of first-degree murder and criminal discharge of firearm. He requested a dispositional/durational departure sentence, listing four mitigating factors; sentencing court denied the request, finding no substantial and compelling bases for departure. On appeal Randle claimed district court erred by: (1) refusing Randle’s request for jury instruction on unintentional but reckless second-degree murder as a lesser included offense of first-degree murder; (2) allowing hearsay statements into evidence; (3) admitting gruesome and unnecessary photographs and crime scene video into evidence; and (4) refusing to grant Randle’s motion for a departure sentence.
ISSUES: (1) Jury instruction—lesser included offense; (2) alleged hearsay evidence; (3) photographic and video evidence; (4) sentencing—mitigating factors
HELD: Misstatement in State v. Fisher, 304 Kan. 242 (2016), for analyzing jury instruction claims is identified and disapproved. Under Kansas caselaw, when a defendant requests a lesser included offense instruction, an appellate court reviews the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant. Randle’s requested instruction was legally appropriate, but even assuming the instruction was factually appropriate, the error was harmless. Overwhelming evidence supports the first-degree premeditated murder conviction. And jury, provided with choice between first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree intentional murder, convicted Randle of the more severe crime that required a premeditation finding.
District court did not err by admitting the two out-of-court statements. Alleged hearsay statements are examined, finding one was not hearsay. The other was classic hearsay, but allowed because the statement was made by a person present at trial and available for cross-examination, K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-460(a).
No error in admitting eight of the 128 autopsy photos, selected to explain the nature and extent of fatal injuries, their location on the body, and coroner’s opinions based on injuries depicted. No error in admitting the six-minute crime scene video. Similar argument, that a crime scene video was irrelevant, cumulative, and more prejudicial than probative, was rejected in State v. McCaslin, 291 Kan. 697 (2011). No error in admitting two photographs of Randle while in custody, in street clothes, and without handcuffs or other restraints. Randle did not challenge relevancy, and this evidence was not unduly prejudicial.
Randle’s reliance on previous cases holding his listed mitigating factors to be substantial and compelling reasons to support a departure sentence is rejected. Mitigating factors that may justify departure in one case may not justify a departure in another case.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6620,: -6815(a), 22-3601(b), 60-459(a), -460, -460(a), -460(i)(2); K.S.A. 60-404, -2101(b)
Kansas Court of Appeals
SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR
IN RE CARE AND TREATMENT OF RITCHIE
BARTON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 121,627—MAY 1, 2020
FACTS: Ritchie was civilly committed to the Larned State Hospital under the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act. By April 2017, Ritchie earned the right to transitional release. He remained in the transitional release program until February 2019, which he was removed from the program and returned to Larned State Hospital. The removal was prompted by concerns about Ritchie's behavior and staff's belief that he was a danger to the general public; Ritchie violated the rules of transitional release in many ways, including several occasions where he contacted his victims. The State scheduled Ritchie's probable cause hearing but had to delay it because of scheduling conflicts for counsel and witnesses. Ritchie moved to dismiss the motion to revoke transitional release, arguing that the two-day timeframe for the probable cause hearing was jurisdictional.
ISSUES: (1) Is the statutory requirement that a hearing be held within two working days jurisdictional; (2) whether Ritchie was entitled to return to transitional release
HELD: As with most time standards of the KSVPA, the "two working days" requirement of K.S.A. 59-29a08(k) is directory, not mandatory. Any delay beyond the two days did not violate Ritchie's constitutional rights. He was still heard in a meaningful time and manner. There was sufficient evidence that Ritchie violated the terms of his conditional release placement, justifying his return to confinement at Larned.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 59-29a01, -29a01(b), -29a08(j), -29a08(k), -29a10