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Archive for Saturday, November 19, 2005

Matthew Limon returning to court on new charge

Prosecutor in sodomy case wants defendant on parole

November 19, 2005

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— Matthew R. Limon, whose case resulted in the Kansas Supreme Court saying the state can't punish underage sex more harshly if it involves homosexuals, will be back in court next week on a new charge in the same case.

Miami County Atty. David Miller said he filed a charge Friday of unlawful voluntary sexual relations against Limon in the case that resulted in the high court's ruling last month. His first appearance is Wednesday morning before District Judge Richard Smith in Paola.

Miller said his goal is for Limon to be put on parole for up to five years, not to send him back to prison.

In 2000, Limon, then 18, was sentenced to 17 years in prison on a charge of criminal sodomy for performing a sex act on a 14-year-old boy at a Paola group home for the developmentally disabled.

Had one of them been a girl, Limon could have faced only 15 months under the state's "Romeo and Juliet" law allowing lighter punishment for teenage sex when the partners are of the opposite sex.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court ordered Limon resentenced as if the law treated illegal gay sex and illegal straight sex the same. It also struck the language from the law that resulted in the different treatment.

Because Limon had already served more than four years in prison, he doesn't have to serve any more prison time. But Miller wants Limon to be under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, and he said, "That couldn't happen unless he was recharged and went through the judicial process."

The prosecutor said he didn't know if the case will go to trial or whether a plea agreement might be struck.

"I can't comment on what future plea negotiations might be," Miller said.

Paul Cates, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Limon, said what the prosecutor was doing wasn't right.

"We're fine with him being recharged under Romeo and Juliet, but it seems like the prosecutor is trying to extend the supervision," Cates said. "This is for somebody who has served four-and-a-half years in prison for a consensual sex act."

On Nov. 3, the judge ordered Limon released from Ellsworth prison until the state decided its next move.

A condition of that release was that Limon be placed under house arrest, limiting his ability to leave the home of his aunt and uncle in western Kansas. He also is barred from having contact with minors, cannot use alcohol and drugs, and must undergo sex offender counseling.

The house arrest is due to expire Nov. 26, but Miller said he will ask Wednesday for that to be extended with the same conditions.

During Limon's trial, an official described the other boy, identified only as M.A.R. in court documents, as mildly retarded and Limon as functioning at a slightly higher level but not as an 18-year-old.

Defense attorneys said the relationship with the younger boy was consensual and suggested they were adolescents experimenting with sex.

Atty. Gen. Phill Kline's office repeatedly described Limon as a predator, noting he had two similar, previous offenses on his criminal record. On Wednesday, Kline said he wouldn't appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Kansas Court of Appeals rejected Limon's appeal in 2002. The next year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that criminalized gay sex and returned Limon's case to the state. Last year, the appeals court again sided with the state, and Limon appealed to the state Supreme Court.

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