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Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2004

Convicted murderer drops appeal

November 11, 2004

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— A man convicted in a 1998 killing in Wichita has dropped his appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court in exchange for prosecutors' agreement to stop seeking a death sentence.

The Supreme Court has ordered a new sentencing hearing for Stanley M. Elms in Sedgwick County, and that hearing is set for Wednesday. The Supreme Court issued its order Nov. 2, after prosecutors and Elms' attorneys filed their agreement.

Elms, now 28, was convicted of capital murder, rape and aggravated burglary for the death of 29-year-old Regina Gray, who lived beside him in a west Wichita duplex. Her throat was cut after she was tied up, and DNA tests showed Elms had sex with Gray shortly before she died.

Both prosecutors and Elms' attorneys agreed that Elms' death sentence would have been reversed under a 2001 Supreme Court ruling, though the justices had yet to rule directly on Elms' appeal.

In the ruling three years ago, the Supreme Court said a jury could recommend a death sentence only if aggravating circumstances, put forth in favor of death, outweighed other factors against death. For example, the brutality of a killing could be put forth as an argument in favor of death, while the defendant's age could be used to argue against it.

In Elms' case in 1999, Sedgwick County District Judge Gregory Waller told jurors they could recommend death if they felt the aggravating and mitigating circumstances deserved equal weight. The alternative to death by injection was life in prison with no chance of parole for the next 40 years.

Reid Nelson, a state public defender representing Elms, did not return telephone messages left at his office. The Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office will not comment until after Elms' sentencing hearing, spokeswoman Georgia Cole said.

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