PRAIRIE VILLAGE — Attorneys for a former Prairie Village physician who pleaded no contest in the 1995 killings of two of her children want the pleas cast aside.
Debora Green was sentenced to life in prison after making the pleas in 1996. She says she agreed to the pleas because prosecutors threatened to pursue the death penalty if the case went to trial.
Now that the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the state's death penalty law is unconstitutional, Green's attorneys say she should be able to withdraw those pleas.
"As a result of (the court's) decision, Ms. Green received no benefit from her bargain with the state, and allowing her plea to stand in light of this decision would result in a manifest injustice and violation of due process of law," attorneys Jessica Travis and Angela Keck wrote in a motion filed this week in Johnson County District Court.
The court likely will consider Green's motion next week during a hearing it had already scheduled to consider an earlier challenge Green had filed. In that motion, Green, 53, claims her pleas are invalid based on new scientific methods of investigating arson.
Prosecutors in the case said Green's latest challenge is without merit.
"There is considerable case law that says when you get the benefit of a bargain you should be held to it," said Johnson County Dist. Atty. Paul Morrison.
Morrison said the Supreme Court ruling doesn't invalidate her pleas.
State officials have asked the court to reconsider its decision. If it doesn't, they may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Authorities charged Green with two counts of capital murder, saying she set a fire that consumed her Prairie Village home, killing her 13-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. Green and a 10-year-old daughter escaped.