Archive for Monday, February 12, 2007

Mistrial declared in Boardwalk Fire case

New witness introduced

February 12, 2007


A mistrial was declared today in the Jason Rose trial, after prosecutors attempted to introduce the testimony of a surprise witness.

Defense attorney Ron Evans asked for the mistrial, saying that at this late date - five days into Rose's trial for arson and murder - there wasn't enough time to review and prepare for the unexpected evidence.

Judge Jack Murphy declared the mistrial, and set a new trial date for April 30.

Rose is accused of murder and arson in the October 2005 Boardwalk Fire that killed three people.

More details as they develop.


raine 11 years, 1 month ago

from what i read here, jason rose probably has an iq of about 79-80.. he's been setting fires since he was young and obviously never had to accept responsibility for what he has done.. a similiar situation happened with a friends son (adopted) when he was young and the interviewer(either srs or police) were always so quick to ask him what did he want... poor little borderline retarded boy.. nothing happens to them as children and then they become adults and think they will be patted on the hand there there.... he obviously needs some intense therapy... and he really needed it way back when. this world is getting crazier by the minute, noone has to take responsibility till lives are lost.. its too late then, intervention needs to happen way earlier.

Hawkman 11 years, 1 month ago

What was the DA's office thinking? I know better than that from watching Boston Legal!!!

preebo 11 years, 1 month ago

Why would the prosecution attempt to spring this on the defense? From what I have gathered so far they had enought testimony to place Rose at the scene at the right time. Why on Earth would they chance the whole trial for a suprise witness? Bully, for the Defense. They obviously were in class when they were discussing the rules of Discovery. This one falls on the prosecution. The only good thing is that Jeopardy wasn't attached so another trial can take place.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 1 month ago

Bum Bum (that's the Law and Order noise)

esubrett 11 years, 1 month ago

Nice one DA. Force the families of the victims to go through this all over again from square one.

newsreader 11 years, 1 month ago

Why would they do this? They wouldn't even need the "surprise witness" because he admitted to setting the fire!

redfred 11 years, 1 month ago

Watch the whole case get dismissed on a "speedy trial" issue. You get what you elect!

Baille 11 years, 1 month ago

"They wouldn't even need the "surprise witness" because he admitted to setting the fire!"

That is not sufficient to establish intent.

KUred06 11 years, 1 month ago

Please understand that this is a frustrating development for victim's families and friends. However, it is of utmost importance that the accused gets a fair trial. No one wants to see this drawn out more than it already is, but all we hope is that the legal proceedings are done by the books.

Stephen 11 years, 1 month ago

I dub the DA (drum roll please) Cheif Inspector Clouseau. I sure hope some job openings happen at the DA's tomorrow.

preebo 11 years, 1 month ago

What I don't understand is that the District Attorney's Office should have placed their best staff on this case. What it looks like to me is that they placed a graduate no more then a year out. It's either that or they have a slim pool of legal talent there at the DA's office. I can understand if they would have done this in the beginning of questioning and not FIVE days in. They held this card too long and it bit them back. They want to list off the evidence and testimony and bury him under circumstantial evidence all for a quick decision. The only problem is, the defense had only one card to play, and the Judge took it. The defense has nothing to lose, so they play on procedure. The prosecution should have been ready. Better luck next time.

Stephen 11 years, 1 month ago

Time to get a posse and run all the Idoits out, city council, DA, you name it. Get em out!!!!!!!

Baille 11 years, 1 month ago

For all those in an uproar based on the four to five sentence story, please explain to me what exactly happened today at the courthouse.

thelonious 11 years, 1 month ago

Certainly raises issues of competence in the DA's office - on television, "surprise" witnesses, etc. happen, but in real life, there are rules of discovery, etc. that preclude most of that kind of tomfoolery on the part of prosecutors. Geez, how amateurish! Prosecutors, for everyone's sake, do your job properly - prepare your case, make your case, all within the rules, and get your conviction (if it is gettable). Defense, nice job calling the DA out on this - every defendant deserves a vigorous defense. It's part of what keeps our society unique. Stupid moves like this one by the DA just cost society a lot of time and money, force victims and the defendant to wait for justice, etc. Amazing, really.

Crispian Paul 11 years, 1 month ago

Whether or not he's guilty, the DA really messed this one up.

Posted by Baille (anonymous) on February 12, 2007 at 2:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"They wouldn't even need the "surprise witness" because he admitted to setting the fire!"

That is not sufficient to establish intent.

That is true. But in addition, his defense is claiming that due to his limited emotional and mental functions, he confessed because he wanted to be "left alone".

RightinLawrence 11 years, 1 month ago is my understanding that the prosecution is required to submit to the defense their evidence and witnesses in advance. They may bring a rebuttal witness on at a later date.

It would appear that in this case the DA sprung a new witness as a surprise on the defense team 5 days into the trial, thus abdigating their responsibility for disclosure, thus...we have a mistrial.

Now, the families are put on hold until August. The time and subsequently, money, spent to this point with selecting jurors, etc. has been wasted as well.

Seems pretty clear to me.

Bobo Fleming 11 years, 1 month ago

The state has to provide the defense with a list of witnesses it intends to call. If they try to add a new witness during the trial the defense has the right to a reasonable period to investigate the witness's story. Apparently the court thought it would take too long for the defense to do the investigation and hold the jury more or less sitting on their hands with nothing to do. So hence the mistrial. Hard on everyone and expensive. But such is life in criminal cases.

Stephen 11 years, 1 month ago

Baille Uproar over this

1) Time is money and the D-bags in the city are not very prudent about spending our nickle very accordingly.

2) 3 people died, he confessed on tape!!!Do you need to pull a rabbit of the hat? This trial should be cut/dry.

Shelley Bock 11 years, 1 month ago

What's always interesting is the number of people who immediately know what happened, but in fact have no clue.

Scuttlebut around the courthouse indicates that a witness came forward late, late last week with significant information. Why would this be the DA's fault? Wasn't this matter investigated as fully as believed possible by the PD? How can you blame the DA's office if someone slipped through the investigative process?

As to the prosecution, the lead attorney has experience in dozens of murder cases from Jackson County, Missouri. No lack of experience.

No evidence that the DA was withholding the idenity of this witness. They know the rules and follow them. The DA's office knows them well because the courts here will kick out a case if it hasn't been followed.

Sometimes, even in the best of planned cases, stuff happens. Don't be so quick to blame the DA for coming forward with this information, good or bad for the prosecution, when they discovered it. In other Kansas counties, the evidence could be simply ignored or forgotten about. At least be happy they brought all that they knew forward to the defense as soon as they discovered it.

Shelley Bock 11 years, 1 month ago

Stephen says the jury trial should be cut and dry. Never, ever think that a jury trial should be easy and obvious. To think so, means you've just lost your case.

compmd 11 years, 1 month ago

m1983 and stephen, your feelings, however powerful they may be, do not change the law. there are a few people here who really do know what they are talking about on this matter. it would behoove you to hear what they have to say.

ramirez, for once, I think you're absolutely right. if a juror read a post like the one smitty pointed out, all bets would be off. additionally, that poster's identity could conceivably be obtained by the state and asked to testify. and honestly, I don't think that the concept of these forums causing a mistrial is that far fetched.

m1983 11 years, 1 month ago

all of you can talk all you want about what you think you know, you seem to have forgotten that this is a discussion board, and while it doesn't sound like i am articulating myself like I would have hoped, let me just tell you this.. to some of this, this isn't just a "debate " or "legal" discussion, this is extreemly personal to some people on here.. so why don't you look at that "comp" instead of replying condesending remarks.. do you think i am stupid? do you think that I am dumb enough to think that my feelings, i express on a discussion board can change the law? honestly.. come down off of your high horse and realize people are on this for all different reasons

Shelley Bock 11 years, 1 month ago

RightinLawrence says the families have to wait until August. Wrong. The court reset the matter for April 30. That's a very quick turn around time for a new setting.

bunnyhawk 11 years, 1 month ago

What about the possibility that they did this on purpose because they were concerned the jury was too sympathetic to the defendent????????

Baille 11 years, 1 month ago

"1) Time is money and the D-bags in the city are not very prudent about spending our nickle very accordingly."

Ok. But that still doesn't mean any of us have any idea of what happened. Let's wait and see before we start vomiting our outrage on everyone.

"2) 3 people died, he confessed on tape!!!Do you need to pull a rabbit of the hat? This trial should be cut/dry."

No. I don't need a rabbit, Stephen. But the law demands that each and every element of arson and felony murder be proven. Admitting that you started a fire does not in and of itself prove a damn thing - except that you may have started a fire.

Kansas statutes are free and accessible on the internet. Take a look. Case law of course is extra.

Atalanta 11 years, 1 month ago

While this is upsetting, I have more questions than comments:

When did the prosecution know about this witness? And when was disclosure given to the defense? Was he/she truly a surprise witness that the prosecution chose not to disclose, or was this a late-arriving witness (as was suggested in an earlier post)?

I think all of these issues matter. It sounds likely that the prosecution handled the matter poorly, but not absolute. I need more information.

That being said, I do feel horrible for the people involved in the trial who have to repeat the process again. Oh, and due to the coverage and all the witness testimony that we've been privy to, good luck with the voir dire process for the April trial. Impartiality is going to be difficult without a change of venue.

schmang 11 years, 1 month ago

Hepburn -Thanks for saying exactly what I would have- if you had no beat me to it.

hawkbygod 11 years, 1 month ago

"#-###s in the city are not very prudent about spending our nickle very accordingly."

Stephen: Not to harp, but I wanted to point out that this has nothing to do with the City or Lawrences Municipal Court. This case is in District Court and presented by the County District Attorney's office where the DA is elected directly by the people of Douglas County.

Steve Jacob 11 years, 1 month ago

Again I say it, death penalty cases get the best public defenders. I would not be surprised if he gets bail after this. I for sure would drop the death penalty.

TheEleventhStephanie 11 years, 1 month ago

So, do they now have to search for another slew of jurors who know nothing about this case? Good luck on that one.

Stephen 11 years, 1 month ago

hawkbygod I agree, I'm just making a blanket statement.
As far as the trial goes I know that things happen during the course of these events and mistrials happen. I just hope that this "mistrial" in no way hurts the case. Now if they tube this case and somehow this kid walks, we have problems.

1hawk4all 11 years, 1 month ago

I can't believe the DA would do such a thing. Just to start all over again.

RightinLawrence 11 years, 1 month ago


sorry, my bad, I was posting and talking at the same time...somehow April turned to August.

None the less, more difficult on the victims and the families of the deceased.

Stephen 11 years, 1 month ago

posessionannex, lay off the paint thinner.

Sigmund 11 years, 1 month ago

Baille, you know exactly what happened today at the Court House. Attempted trial by ambush. Judges hate trial by ambush even more than they hate mistrials as it violates the defendants constitutional rights. The Lawrence DA's office has a reputation for sandbagging the defense (and not just under Branson's reign). The DA's office could have pulled their witness instead of the accepting the mistrial. Judge Murphy had no choice and made the right decision.

It is an outrage that this community, has to pay for and go through another trial here. I will be voting against Branson come the next election based solely on the gross mishandling of this case!!!!!

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

Just one more disappointment in our "justice" system............the technicalities rule the system whether or not justice is done. Simplisticly(if not simply) speaking, we see too many times that facts and witnesses, however indisputable, are disregarded by our system in favor "good for lawyers vs good for law and order".

Don't have the answers but I think we are mired in the legal/lawyer technical quagmire.

Better 1000 criminals go free than 1 innocent person be.........!? I wonder if it's really working anymore!

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

It's seeming more like the gov lawyer vs the defense lawyer........But can we know who the good guys are?, Duke University and DA, Jessica's law, etc,......!

ASBESTOS 11 years, 1 month ago

These City and County DA's across the nation just plain suck and cannot prosecute a case period! THis is like the Duke Rape case. What are these DA's thinking?

porkchop 11 years, 1 month ago

Hepburn is the only poster on here halfway informed about what actually happened. Everyone else is just barking at the moon.

On a side note, the basic ignorance about the criminal justice system that some (not all) of these posters are displaying is a little chilling....

Sigmund 11 years, 1 month ago

It is astonishing how many "lately discovered witnesses" this DA's office has found that have led to a mistrial. I am really not buying what Branson is selling.

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

Laws? Or judge's speculation that his/her record may be blemished by not being upheld in appeal!?.......of course, I'm not a lawyer so..........!?

winterishere 11 years, 1 month ago

Thank god the JUDICIAL SYSTEM IS WORKING!....The DA'S offcie will hold back evidence and lie if they have to to convict someone.thats nothing new!

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

SSSSSSSSOOOOOOO!? Who's the good guys!? That's the question!

porkchop 11 years, 1 month ago

"Laws? Or judge's speculation that his/her record may be blemished by not being upheld in appeal!?.......of course, I'm not a lawyer so..........!?"

Umm, the reason a judge's decision wouldn't be upheld on appeal is because that decision was wrong. So aren't you really saying that the judge made this ruling because he was afraid of making the wrong ruling? And wouldn't that be considered a positive?

Of course, I'm not a lawyer.... Just, you know, logical.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 1 month ago

"It is astonishing how many "lately discovered witnesses" this DA's office has found that have led to a mistrial. I am really not buying what Branson is selling."

Then I'm sure you can astonish us with a list of all of these mistrials.

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

Logic gets in the way of my emotions, once in awhile! Still wish there were fewer lawyers!

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

Just a good thing for you logical lawyer-lovers that I'm not the DECIDER!

caveatguy 11 years, 1 month ago

There are sometimes legitimate reasons for late-appearing witnesses, but this situation is definately one that Mr. Branson needs to explain to the public......It certainly doesn't reinforce confidence in his office.

compmd 11 years, 1 month ago

Baille, you're always on top on these topics. porkchop, Hepburn, thank you for you insightful, knowledgeable posts. There are far too many CSI and Law & Order junkies in here who think they know what they are talking about. Those posters, if they are not too arrogant, should read and think about what you have to say.

I'm quite thankful I didn't have to commit verbal cluebattery against a few users in here.

So we push Ctrl+Alt+Del on the trial. Lawyers went to law school for a reason, and that is to know the law, which the vast majority of people in here do not know. So the judge found that as a matter of law the prosecution's attempt to introduce new testimony at this point would cause irreparable damage to the case, thus, a mistrial. There are myriad reasons why there would be damage done and thus equal reasons to grant a mistrial. Can't wait for April.

GetItRight 11 years, 1 month ago

Typical LJWorld...misleading headline. The surprise was that a new witness came forward, not that the DA was keeping it a secret. Don't be fooled. It's not like the defense didn't know. The attorneys from both sides spent a lot of time in judge's chambers today. Better to get it right the first time than to have it overturned later on a technicality. The DA, ADA and defense did a good job thus far and the reasoning behind the last minute discovery will be revealed in the next trial. The last time this happened, the man (Jay Decker) was convicted of first degree murder. Seems to me the DA's office is following the rules and making sure criminals are not getting off.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 1 month ago

If the prosecutor did already know about the witness, then he should have also known that he had a set amount of time to inform the defense about said witness.

If he didn't already know about the witness, then he should have been smart enough to know that he couldn't introduce said witness at such a late date.

dthroat 11 years, 1 month ago

Bozo - I can't believe I am agreeing with you again. Can Sigmund actually back up that statement?? I don't think so. The only other case I can recall lately is the Decker case, and in that one it wasn't the DA's fault either. I think Hepburn has some insightful information that I have heard is the truth from other sources.

People should wait a little bit before laying blame. ESPECIALLY since this story is in the LJW and has no details. Seems like if you watched the Kansas City television news, they actually talked to Branson and got more DETAILS. Wonder why the LJW didn't feel the need to update this topic.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 1 month ago

He may have told the police at one point that he did it, but evidently he pled not guilty in court. Otherwise, they wouldn't be having a trial at all.

And once he has pled not guilty, then he is considered innocence until proven guilty.

daman 11 years, 1 month ago

I have a question, why wasn't Branson prosecuting this case? One of his campaign promises was that HE would be in court trying cases? Which cases is he trying? He sent in two ADA's to handle a high profile case. Nothing against those two, but Branson should have been lead counsel as the DA. I realize he can't try them all, but come on, this is a high profile case and it's not like Lawrence gets 50 of these a year, if it did, then I'd understand. In the last two years we had Murry, Decker and this one. Shouldn't he be in there on all three of those. Does he still work there?

Sigmund 11 years, 1 month ago

It is never the DA's fault, apparently, and yes Jay Decker was the other murder case.

Two in six months seems like a very high rate, Lawrence does not have that many murder trials! I would bet that similar and larger jurisdictions do not have a similar rate of "newly discovered witnesses."

If the Lawrence DA is prepared for trial and has a strong case prior to these late discoveries then shouldn't they proceed. If not they shouldn't have brought the case to begin with. And again, Branson is not the only offender here, he learned this little trick from the previous DA.

Various Lawrence DA's have a habit of delivering evidence and witnesses right before trial, and it is called sandbagging, especially with the court appointed attorney's they think they can bully into trial unprepared. The DA's office has the resources to prepare for trial a second time something that is quite costly and most defendants can't afford it.

daman 11 years, 1 month ago

Mistrials happen all the time and sometimes it's beyond the prosecutors control but this one I'm not so sure about. This is a case of late endorsement and the court could have granted it or denied it and the trial goes on. If the case was worthy of prosecution before this witness came forward, it should have been worthy without him unless the State realized the case wasn't unfolding as expected. I think the prosecution was simply out argued by the defense in getting this mistrial. Like I said, the State had a choice and could have proceeded without this witness and if they think they needed him to secure a guilty verdict then the question is, where they really ready to prosecute to begin with?

daman 11 years, 1 month ago


Branson didn't learn anything from the previous DA, Branson was a criminal defense attorney. Perhaps he should have spent some time prosecuting cases before becoming DA, but I guess the voters didn't care about experience as much as the cared about party lines. Get what you vote for.

m1983 11 years, 1 month ago

this effing makes me sick! he is GUILTY!!! this has been dragged and dragged!! stupid freaks, I am so pissed

Sigmund 11 years, 1 month ago

Daman, my point exactly. You see its the defense bar that is quite familiar with prosecution "strategies," and Branson was a member of the defense bar prior to his current position.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 1 month ago

m1983 wrote "he is GUILTY!!!"

Which may or may not be true; either way, we do not get to make that determination. 12 peers do, who will be impaneled to listen to the evidence and make their determination solely on that basis.

m1983 11 years, 1 month ago

hello. i am not stupid, i understand that we, specifically, I do not make that call, and that there is a legal system, with a jury of un-bias people..

but, if i am not mistaken, and i don't think i am, because it's been in every article since it happend, Mr Jason said he started the fire, I am pretty sure that qualifies him as guilty..

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

Okay, I'll admit to not being a lawyer one more time(and glad to do so) and wonder: Why didn't the judge just say "No, you cannot present another witness unless I agree after we have discussed it in chambers." Works on TV! Oops, the tv argument probably not recognized in law school!

daman 11 years, 1 month ago

jimincountry, that's a very good point. The State cannot put an unendorsed witness on the stand unless the defense agrees or fails to object. Once the defense objects or the state "moves" to endorse a witness, the court must then decide to either allow the endorsement and the witness testifies or deny the endorsement and the witness does not testify but under either scenerio the trial goes on. From what I can tell, this particular witness could have been used in rebuttle just as effectively if not more so, then to work the judge for a mistrial which is what it sounds like the state wanted (although the defense moved for it).

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

Let's just all hope that justice is done and that the ones involved find consolation therefrom.

jayhawkbarrister 11 years, 1 month ago

m1983, Guilty of what? Murder, felony murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, misdemeanor manslaughter? Which one? If you are going to deign to favor us with your opinion, please be specific. It is frustrating to those of us who can be easily persuaded by your knowledge, when you are vague and inscrutable.

m1983 11 years, 1 month ago

let me tell you something, Nicole Bingham was a close friend of mine for 9 years, I am not sure exactly what form of guilt he falls under, but in my mind, he is guilty, and whether that be vague or not, I really don't care. My knowledge of all of this is easily obtainable, I know nothing more than most of you, I have watched this like a hawk and feel extreemly frustated and sad that her mom has to go through this again in 2 months..

he admitted to setting a fire, then going back to his apt to watch TV.. because of his choice he killed my friend and 2 others, injured many others and caused hundreds to lose everything they owned..

it really doesn't matter how I label the term guilty, if you put 2 and 2 together I am sure you can guess how I feel and what punishment I personally thinks he deserves.

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

m1983, you and people in similar relationships, are the living real victims of the too-lenient-justice-system our liberalism has contrived. When does reason prevail?

dthroat 11 years, 1 month ago

Mr R - you really are trying to be the voice of reason. People should think about this.

Smitty made a VERY good post (ouch, that hurts) along with Hepburn's. Both seem to have figured something out that most people are missing. And I think they will be correct when all is revealed.

Maybe people should remember they MIGHT NOT be anon. on this forum. Of course, I really don't think that will temper very many people's comments here.

Baille 11 years, 1 month ago

"but, if i am not mistaken, and i don't think i am, because it's been in every article since it happend, Mr Jason said he started the fire, I am pretty sure that qualifies him as guilty.."

It doesn't.

m1983 11 years, 1 month ago

hey lets argue about it.. ok? and also. why don't you re-read my comment. seems as if you completely missed my point.

Stephen 11 years, 1 month ago

Baille,, Your right, he's a victim of circumstance.

Baille 11 years, 1 month ago

"Your right, he's a victim of circumstance."

Where did I say that? What an odd thing to take from my posts.

And M1983, you might be on here for different reasons but you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the process and the concepts behind the process. I knew one of the victims of the fire as well. Spent a lot of time with teh person during a very intense part of our lives; however, justice is not equivalent to revenge.

Lynching Rose is not justice. The state has the burden to prove every element of the crime. If you want to understand the process and find some solace in the outcome, you would be better served to take some time and learn about what is going on. Unfortunately, no one is going to take the time to educate you on this.

Simply setting on a fire on purpose, a fire which goes on to kill people, is not sufficient to establish the crimes for which Rose has been charged. The surprise witness' testimony would seem to go a long way in assisting the state in meeting its burden. It is why the witness is so important - and why it is so important for the defense to be able to conduct a thorough and zealous investigation and examination. If this witness' testimony is not credible then any conviction based on that testimony would likewise lack credibility; however, unringing that bell would be very, very difficult.

I understand that this is personal for you, but publicly calling for another's head is not helpful or appropriate. If you notice, I have never asserted that Rose is not guilty either. The fact is that the legal definition of intent is not the definition that most people have in mind when bandying about the word on these forums. Until we have all the facts, or at least substantially more than we have now, finding Rose guilty of arson and murder in the court of public opinion hurts the legal processes in place and makes it harder to achive justice in the matter.

m1983 11 years, 1 month ago

wow.. this is ridiculous.. i never called for someone's head (wtf?) i THINK he's guilty, i said it, who cares, why don't you jump everyone else who has left similar comments.

i do not have a fundemental misunderstanding of the legal process, it's baffling ya'll haven't realized that I am simply stating my opinion..

i NEVER mentioned lynching, or called for someone's head - it seems to me you haven't really read through my posts..

i really don't care to notice what you've said or not said, i am not on here to debate with you, i am freely stating my opinion, whether it make sense, or not so calm down, stop putting "words in my mouth" and understand that this board is simply that, a public message board. you're going to get all types of posts.

if my opinion on here, thinking he is guilty effects the legal process, then shut the boards down.

Baille 11 years, 1 month ago

I was using hyperbole and I apologize for confusing the issue.

I will just stick by my previous post:

"'but, if i am not mistaken, and i don't think i am, because it's been in every article since it happend, Mr Jason said he started the fire, I am pretty sure that qualifies him as guilty..'

"It doesn't."

I have tried to limit my posting on this thread to comments that equated "admitted started a fire" with "guilty of murder." To the extent that your post fit the model, I responded.

While everyone is entitled to their opinion, by thrusting such opinions into the marketplace of ideas one is bound to run into others who will test the basis of those opinions. Opinions with sufficient foundation wither, those that standing on more solid footing grow stronger.

If there is a next time, I will be sure to leave out any rhetorical devices when challenging your statements, and again I apologize for any suggestion that you literally called for anyone's head or advocated an actual lynching in lieu of a fair and just trial.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.