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.