Kansas Supreme Court Decisions, April 29, 2022

29 Apr 2022 10:59 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

Appeal No. 120,339: State of Kansas v. Geldy Gutierrez-Fuentes

Appeal No. 120,339 archived oral argument

The Supreme Court reverses in part and affirms in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals after Gutierrez-Fuentes appealed on theories that his constitutional speedy trial right had been violated, that there was insufficient evidence for his aggravated burglary conviction, and that the Wilson County District Court erred by allowing inadmissible hearsay evidence when witnesses testified about conversations they had through an interpreter. The Court of Appeals panel affirmed the district court, finding no error. The Supreme Court found it was harmless error to allow the contested statements under an erroneous hearsay ruling. Given that the error was harmless, the judgment of the district court is affirmed.

Appeal No. 122,645: State of Kansas v. Alifonso Eduardo Garcia

Appeal No. 122,645 archived oral argument

A Rooks County jury found Garcia guilty of premeditated murder for killing his wife after officers found her dead in her home and Garcia lying next to her with a wound on his neck. The jury rejected Garcia’s testimony that an intruder killed his wife and left him for dead. The court sentenced Garcia to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years. Garcia challenged his convictions, arguing the Rooks County District Court erred when it denied him a venue change; admitted autopsy photographs; and declined to instruct the jury it could convict Garcia of voluntary manslaughter if it did not find him guilty of premeditated murder. Garcia also argued his constitutional rights were violated when he did not get a requested venue study. In an opinion written by Justice Eric Rosen, the Supreme Court affirmed Garcia’s convictions. It ruled the court made no error in denying the venue change because Garcia had failed to show presumed or actual prejudice among the jury members. It reasoned there was no error in admitting the autopsy photographs because they were relevant and were not unduly prejudicial. The Court rejected Garcia’s claim of instructional error because the facts did not support giving a voluntary manslaughter instruction. Finally, the Court declined to consider Garcia’s claim that denial of a venue study had violated his constitutional rights because Garcia had failed to bring up the issue in district court.

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