Archive for Friday, February 6, 2004

Jurors vote guilty in kidnapping case

February 6, 2004


A man who had vowed to spend the next decade protesting the Lawrence Police Department probably will have to do so from behind prison walls.

Dale E. McCormick, 32, faces the possibility of more than 13 years in prison after being found guilty Thursday of breaking into a Lawrence woman's home, holding her against her will and preventing her from calling police.

A Douglas County District Court jury of five men and seven women deliberated about 2 1/2 hours before deciding they believed the victim's version of events -- not McCormick's claims that the woman had multiple personalities and that police fabricated evidence.

The victim, whom McCormick met in 1997 in a Washburn University class, claimed McCormick had been stalking her for years. On Feb. 16, 2003, she said, he climbed in through her window wearing a ski mask, pinned her on a bed, and begged her to be in a relationship.

During closing arguments Thursday, prosecutor Jacqueline Spradling turned to McCormick and addressed him directly, telling him to get the message that the victim doesn't want anything to do with him.

"Get over it!" Spradling shouted.

McCormick is a self-described First Amendment activist known for videotaping police traffic stops in Lawrence while heckling and cursing at officers. His crusade against started in 2000, after he claimed police used excessive force against him in an arrest after a traffic stop.

During the eight-day trial, McCormick served as his own attorney. He claimed the woman had a history of filing false police reports against him and had invited him that night to her home in the 1300 block of New Hampshire Street.

McCormick also claimed that police fabricated paint scrapings on the woman's window. But Spradling said the only reason some photos didn't show the scrapes is that they were taken from different angles.

Jurors found McCormick guilty of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary and aggravated intimidation of a witness, all felonies. Aggravated kidnapping, the most serious of the charges, carries a presumed penalty of at least 13 years in prison unless Judge Michael Malone finds "substantial and compelling" reasons to lighten the punishment.

Deputies took McCormick into custody after the verdict. He's scheduled to appear March 12 for sentencing.

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