Kansas Supreme Court Decisions, September 30 2022

30 Sep 2022 2:10 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

Appeal No. 124,071: State of Kansas v. Patrick Angelo Jr.

Appeal No. 124,071 archived oral argument

The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the Wyandotte County District Court's summary denial of Angelo's petition for post-conviction DNA testing. Angelo was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in 2005. He later petitioned for DNA testing of several items of evidence, including the victims' clothing, under K.S.A. 21-2512. That statute requires a district court to order DNA testing of biological material when the biological material meets threshold requirements for testing and DNA test results may produce noncumulative, exculpatory evidence.

In an opinion written by Justice K.J. Wall, the court affirmed the district court's summary denial of Angelo's petition as to the items of evidence he sought to have tested other than the victims' clothing because any potential biological material on those items did not meet the threshold requirements for testing required by statute. The court reversed the district court's holding that DNA testing of any presumed biological material on the clothing could not produce exculpatory evidence.

The court also recognized the parties apparently disputed whether biological material was actually present on the clothing and that factual dispute had not been resolved because of a lack of clarity regarding the proper procedures under K.S.A. 21-2512. The court thus interpreted K.S.A. 21-2512 to clarify the statute creates a three-step process leading up to a district court's decision whether to order testing. First, the inmate's petition must allege that biological material exists and satisfies the threshold statutory requirements for testing. Second, once the State has notice of the petition, it must preserve any remaining biological material that it previously secured in connection with the case and identify such biological material in its response. Finally, if the parties agree biological material meeting the threshold requirements exists, then they can proceed to argue whether testing of the biological material will produce noncumulative, exculpatory evidence. If the parties dispute the existence of such biological material, then they can present evidence to the district court for appropriate fact-finding. In the latter situation, the petitioner bears the burden to prove the existence of such biological material. The court then remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with the three-step process identified in the opinion. Justice Biles concurred in the result. 

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