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The Kansas Supreme Court issued the following published decisions December 4, 2020

04 Dec 2020 10:20 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

Appeal No. 112,322: State of Kansas v. Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara

Summary calendar; no oral argument

In an identity theft case remanded from the U.S. Supreme Court after holding a state prosecution for identity theft was not preempted by federal immigration law, the Kansas Supreme Court considered the underlying question of whether Ochoa-Lara's convictions for two counts of identity theft were multiplicitous and thus violated the double jeopardy clause of the U.S. Constitution. The State had split the charge into two based on a change in the statute enacted during the time period in which the conduct happened. The Kansas Supreme Court held Ochoa-Lara failed to object in Johnson County District Court and thus failed to preserve the issue for appellate review. Ochoa-Lara also failed to cite any of the exceptions that would allow a court to consider an issue raised for the first time on appeal. Ochoa-Lara's convictions were affirmed.


Appeal No. 118,361: State of Kansas v. Samuel Vonachen.

Archived oral argument video

The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Vonachen's convictions in Reno County of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, and one count of aggravated arson. He burned down his family home while his parents and young sister were sleeping inside. His mother and sister died from the fire; his father survived. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the court rejected Vanachen's various constitutional claims. As to the certification to try him as an adult, the court held the district court properly authorized Vonachen's adult prosecution.

Appeal No. 119,302: State of Kansas v. Gregory Lynn Gales

Summary calendar; no oral argument 

The Kansas Supreme Court vacated Gales' Edwards County sentence for a 2001 second-degree murder conviction and remanded for resentencing. When the original sentence was imposed, a California burglary from Gales' youth was counted as a "person" crime for the purposes of applying Kansas sentencing guidelines, which resulted in a longer sentence than if the burglary was considered a "nonperson" crime. The statute for determining which classification to apply to a prior crime required the sentencing court to determine the most comparable Kansas offense. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the court held the California burglary must be considered a "nonperson" crime in Gales' case, since the California statute was equally comparable to both "person" and "nonperson" versions of burglary in Kansas.

Appeal No. 121,832: State of Kansas v. Phillip R. Parks

Summary calendar; no oral argument 

The Kansas Supreme Court rejected Parks' challenge to a life prison sentence he received in 1997 in Reno County for murdering his wife in 1978. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the court held the sentence was consistent with the statutory requirements existing at the time of the crime.


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