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The Kansas Supreme Court issued the following published decisions on July 24, 2020

27 Jul 2020 10:12 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

The Kansas Supreme Court issued the following published decisions on July 24, 2020

Appeal No. 115,650: John Balbirnie vs. State of Kansas

Archived oral argument 

The Supreme Court reversed Balbirnie's Franklin County jury conviction for second-degree murder and remanded the case to the district court for a new trial. The Supreme Court held Balbirnie, who has consistently and repeatedly maintained his innocence, was entitled to a new trial because his appointed trial counsel ineffectively represented him by failing to admit into evidence a recording of a 911 call made while the fight leading to the victim's death was ongoing. During the 911 call, the caller said another person—the caller's fiancé—stabbed the victim. The omission of this call undermined confidence in the outcome of the trial as the evidence supporting the verdict conflicted, the 911 call underscored questions about the credibility of those who attributed the fatal stab wound to Balbirnie, and the other evidence presented at trial did not remove the potential for reasonable doubt about Balbirnie's guilt.

Appeal No. 115,990: State of Kansas vs. Robbie A. Thomas

Archived oral argument

The Supreme Court held the cumulative effect of multiple errors during a Chautauqua County jury trial required reversal of the defendant's conviction for aggravated battery but affirmed his convictions for child abuse and aggravated endangering of a child. The Supreme Court found the State failed to prove there was no reasonable probability a jury instruction that misstated the law regarding aggravated battery, combined with a prosecutor's improper statements during closing, did not affect the jury's verdict for the aggravated battery charge. The court also remanded for resentencing after finding the defendant's criminal history score was incorrect due to a misclassification of a prior Virginia conviction.

Appeal No. 119,739: State of Kansas vs. De'Angelo Megle Martinez 

Archived oral argument

The Supreme Court affirmed the defendant's murder conviction in Shawnee County after finding a prosecutor's statements did not impermissibly shift the burden of proof to the defendant, nor did the statements infringe on the defendant's constitutional protection against self-incrimination. During closing arguments, the State responded to the defense counsel's attack on the credibility of witnesses by pointing out the State had presented evidence, whereas the defense theory was based on speculation. The court held that, when viewed in context, the comments were a fair comment on the evidence presented and did not impermissibly shift the burden of proof to the defendant nor did they amount to a comment on the defendant's decision not to testify.  

Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today


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