Appeal No. 120,481: State of Kansas v. Donnell Stafford
Sedgwick County: (Criminal Appeal) Leuh Moore, Stafford’s wife, was killed in Wichita in April 2018. Law enforcement quickly identified Stafford as a suspect and arrested him two days later in Iowa. While being booked into jail in Iowa, Stafford admitted to killing Moore in Wichita. At trial, Stafford never denied responsibility for the killing but claimed it was a done in the heat of passion without premeditation. A jury found Stafford guilty of premeditated murder and two counts of cruelty to animals. The district court sentenced Stafford to a hard-50 life sentence. Issues on appeal are whether: 1) the district court erred by granting the State’s request to expand on the pattern instruction on the definition of premeditation; 2) the district court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of heat of passion voluntary manslaughter; 3) the district court erred by admitting hearsay statements made to a sexual assault nurse examiner in violation of Stafford’s right of confrontation; and 4) cumulative error denied Stafford a fair trial.
Appeal No. 120,600: State of Kansas v. Jerome Edwards
Shawnee County: (Criminal Appeal) Edwards appeals the denial of his motion for a new trial following post-conviction DNA testing on evidence collected during this 1996 homicide investigation resulting in his conviction for murder and other crimes. The district court concluded the new evidence was favorable to Edwards because it was not unfavorable but that it was not sufficiently material because it was not reasonably probable to lead a jury to reach a different result. Issue on appeal is whether the district court abused its discretion in concluding the new DNA evidence favorable to him was not sufficiently material to lead a jury to reach a different result.
Appeal No. 121,040: State of Kansas v. Quinton Moore
Reno County: (Criminal Appeal) Moore was convicted of first-degree murder after he shot Clarence Allen seven times. Moore, Allen, and Jessica Crowe lived together. Moore confessed to detectives he shot Allen. The district court sentenced Moore to 618 months’ imprisonment with lifetime parole. Issues on appeal are whether: 1) the district court erred by denying Moore’s motion to suppress his confession; 2) the district court erred by denying Moore’s request for a voluntary intoxication jury instruction; 3) the State committed reversible error during closing argument; and 4) cumulative error denied Moore a fair trial.
Appeal No. 121,051: In the Matter of the Adoption of Baby Girl G.
Sedgwick County: (Petition for Review) The natural mother became pregnant in late 2017. The father learned of the pregnancy through rumor in February 2018. In March, the father and mother began to assume the child was his even though it was possibly another man’s baby. Between March and July, the father and mother exchanged many text messages, and the father purchased items for her and offered to pay an apartment security deposit or have her live with his mother and grandmother. In July, the mother stopped responding the father’s texts. The mother relinquished her rights to Baby G. without telling the father of the birth or her consent. The adoptive parents filed a petition for adoption, and the district court terminated the father’s parental rights, finding he failed to support the mother for the last six months of the pregnancy without reasonable cause, his financial support was incidental, he did not emotionally support the mother, and it was in Baby G’s best interests to terminate parental rights and grant the adoption. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Issues on review are whether: 1) K.S.A. 59-2136(h) is unconstitutional because it allows the termination of a biological father’s parental rights without first finding the father to be an unfit parent; and 2) the district court and Court of Appeals properly terminated the father’s parental rights and granted the adoption based on the evidence presented.