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Archive for Sunday, September 19, 2004

Defense attorney killed in wreck

September 19, 2004

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A long-respected state appellate defender who served on the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit was killed in a traffic accident Saturday morning on the southwestern edge of Lawrence.

Steven R. Zinn, 49, Lawrence, died when his car was struck by another car that had run through a red light, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. The accident occurred about 7 a.m. at the intersection of 27th Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway, just off Wakarusa Drive.

"I am just so sad," said Janine Cox, Lawrence, an attorney who worked with Zinn. "He was a wonderful attorney and a wonderful guy. He took his work very, very seriously."

Three other people were injured in the accident and were taken by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and released, a nursing supervisor said.

Zinn was driving a 1993 Nissan when it was struck on the passenger side by a 1994 Buick driven by Kim J. Then, 43. Then and her two passengers, Christopher Then, 14, and Jennifer Then, 10, all are from Manhattan.

The Buick went through a red light at the intersection, the Highway Patrol said.

Zinn worked on several high-profile criminal cases, most notably that of Gary Kleypas, the first person sentenced to die in Kansas since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1994. He was convicted of killing a Pittsburg State University student in 1996. The Kansas Supreme Court later vacated Kleypas' death sentence and ordered a resentencing. Kleypas still could face the death penalty at his resentencing hearing, which is pending in Crawford County District Court.

Most recently, Zinn worked on the defense of Gavin D. Scott, who was convicted of killing a Goddard couple in 1996 in Sedgwick County.

"He represented his clients very, very well and was so respected by the judicial branch and everyone who knew him," Cox said.

Zinn also was active in the Kaw Valley Soccer Assn. in Lawrence.

The trooper who worked the accident was unavailable for comment, and it was not known whether information in the incident would be turned over to the Douglas County District Attorney's Office for review.

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