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Archive for Friday, May 11, 2007

GUILTY

Jason Rose found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated arson and aggravated battery

Jason Rose exits the court room on May 11, 2007, after the jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated arson and aggravated battery.

Jason Rose exits the court room on May 11, 2007, after the jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated arson and aggravated battery.

May 11, 2007, 11:51 a.m. Updated May 11, 2007, 2:03 p.m.

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Rose trial verdict

Jason Rose and his attorney Ron Evans listen to the verdict being read out. Enlarge video

Bingham on Rose verdict

Nancy Bingham, mother of Boardwalk fire victim Nicole Bingham, discussing the jury verdict. Enlarge video

Shortly before noon today, a Douglas County District Court jury found Jason Allen Rose guilty of lesser charges in a deadly fire at Boardwalk Apartments.

He was convicted of three counts of involuntary manslaughter; one count of aggravated arson; and seven counts of aggravated battery.

Sentencing is set for June 18. He is looking at a maximum sentence of 122 months in prison, although he will get credit for the 19 months he's already served in custody. He's also eligible for 15 percent off the sentence if he doesn't have discipline problems in jail.

Rose, 21, originally was charged with three counts of felony murder in the Oct. 7, 2005, blaze at the apartment building where he lived. But the judge in the case told jurors that they could return an involuntary manslaughter verdict if they believed Rose recklessly set the fire -- but didn't know people could die from it.

Three people died in the fire: Nicole Bingham, a Kansas University student, Jose Gonzalez, an electrician and Yolanda Riddle, a social worker. About 20 people suffered injuries from the fire, some of them severe.

Rose's former pastor, Leo Barbee of Victory Bible Church, said after the verdict that he thinks Rose is innocent.

"I think there's too many unanswered questions," he said. "My prayer is that the person who really did it will come forward... I'm saddened."

Defense attorney Ron Evans said, "I'm pretty happy... Jason wanted an acquittal, but this is the next best thing to it."

Nancy Bingham, mother of fire victim Nicole Bingham, said she was comfortable with the jury's decision.

"My job now is just to accept things the way they are," she said. "The jury had to weigh all that evidence and come up with some hard decisions."

District Attorney Charles Branson said afterward the jury's verdict was "inconsistent."

"There's a little bit of a fiction that's gone on here with regard to what the law is," he said.

The reason is that to convict Rose of first-degree murder under the state's "felony murder" law, prosecutors had to prove only that he committed an "inherently dangerous felony"- in this case, aggravated arson -that led to people dying.

Jurors found Rose guilty of aggravated arson, which means they believe he set the fire, but instead of finding him guilty of murder convicted him of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. Branson said that his office objected to Judge Jack Murphy giving jurors that option.

"We achieved the most difficult charge to prove, aggravated arson, but the jury saw fit not to convict on the felony murder charge," he said. "It is inconsistent."

Jurors left the courthouse without stopping to grant interviews.

Comments

Jamesaust 7 years, 7 months ago

This isn't that different in outcome as the case a few years back of some kid impatient with traffic who decided to pass on the highway leading into town going up a hill that was marked 'no passing' and ran head-forward into an oncoming car. There, the judge decided that he couldn't be charged with more than manslaughter since, while he intended his reckless action, there was no evidence of an intention to harm others.

I can only imagine that the jury could have arrived at this lesser verdict if they disregarded this new re-trial testimony that Rose had remarked publically that he was intent on setting his apartment on fire (probably because others present did not remember such a comment).

Baille 7 years, 7 months ago

He hasn't been sentenced yet. Why do you say he got off easy?

acg 7 years, 7 months ago

This is ridiculous. The man started a fire in an apartment complex in the middle of the night, when people are sleeping! That, to me, is not involuntary manslaughter. Common sense would tell a person that folks are going to get killed in that scenario. Yeah, yeah, yeah, shaddup, wouldjya? I know this guy obviously is lacking in the sense department, common or otherwise, but still. I'm p*ssed now!

50YearResident 7 years, 7 months ago

My Guess is......When he gets out of jail in 4 years the first thing he will do is start another big apartment fire for vengence. I only hope it is in some other town.

preebo 7 years, 7 months ago

I am just pleased that the Prosecution didn't fumble this one after having the earlier case dismissed. They could have lost it completely, but they were able to convince a jury that he did it (not hard, given the evidence). Now, the Judge was the one who allowed for the ruling on the lesser charge, but I would imagine that the Prosecution and the Defense both wanted to include that to increase chances for a favorable ruling. At best, it is a save for the Prosecution and a small win for the defense (as FormerCentralKansan said, he got off easy) a lesser charge was the best they could have hoped for. There was no way any jury would have acquitted Rose in this Case.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 7 months ago

I hit it on the head many months ago, if you go back to other posts. I never did hear one piece of evidence he meant to kill anyone. That is the usual outcome for fires like this. He still gets 10+ years in Lancing, so good luck with that.

DRsmith 7 years, 7 months ago

So if you want someone dead, and you only have a few years to give up, just set their whole apt. complex on fire and hope for the best.

aquakej 7 years, 7 months ago

There was no convincing evidence that he even set the fire. When everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie, what can you believe, "beyond a reasonable doubt"? There was no physical evidence connecting him to the fire, and the fire marshall testified that it may have started on the first floor (prosecution maintains that it started on the second). No one knows for sure how, or where this fire started. There was definatly reasonable doubt in this case. I was a juror the first time around, and while I didn't get to hear the defense's case in person, the prosecution was definatly lacking.

trfcprincess 7 years, 7 months ago

The supposed "fumble" of the earlier case was not a dismissal at all. It was a mistrial due to evidence surfacing at the last minute. Get your facts straight before you post. Being a prosecutor in this town seems to be a completely thankless job.

preebo 7 years, 7 months ago

aquakej,

Physical evidence? Do you mean forensic or "CSI" evidence? Often times, the prosecution doesn't have physical evidence (that's the reality) and they are they have to go ahead with circumstantial, but that does not make it any less compelling. What were you looking for? A gas can and some matches? In arson cases they rely on experts and some forensics, but all they really have to do is place him (Rose) at the starting point of the fire. From my undertanding of the case the defense actually endorsed the inclusion of the lesser charges, and the only reason they would have agreed to that is either they had worked with the prosecution previously and layed the groundwork for a plea deal that didn't pan out (showing the prosecution that they were willing to deal) or they knew that they could confuse the jury on issues of intent. In a courtroom intent has a varied definition from the one in Webster's. in my estimation, this case could not have ended in a straight acquittal The simple fact is that a jury would never allow someone who even was considered to be an arsonist to walk out those doors. On a certain subconscious level jurors (average citizens) want to trust the judicial system and the pursuit of justice so they give the prosecution a little leaway in cases like this.

preebo 7 years, 7 months ago

Princess,

While you were right I shouldn't have used the term dismissal, but it was a fumble. I appoligize for the poor word usage.

However, what was the new evidence?

preebo 7 years, 7 months ago

As far as being a prosecutor and it being a thankless job? That goes for any place. I worked for the 4th Judicial District of Colorado as an intern and as a Deputy District Attorney and there is no one there to shake your hand after a win. It comes with the job though. You have to think of the residents of your district as your collective client. The pay sucks and the case loads are murder, even at 25 years old.

Ragingbear 7 years, 7 months ago

The next stage of justice will be in sentencing. Manslaughter carries a sentence of 31 months to a maximum prison term of 136 months ( 2.5yrs-11.3yrs) each. I am not entirely sure as to the sentencing guidelines for Arson, but I figure it would be a few years as well. Aggrivated battery can carry a year or two as well. If the prosecution ask for maximum sentence and gets it and if they ask that the sentence be served consecutively. Meaning that he would serve 11 years for the first charge of manslaughter, then serving another 11 for manslaughter and so-on. If that happens, this kid will be in prison for 45 or more years. This means that he will not be out in the public until the age of 60. Will definitely give him second thoughts about setting things on fire again. Let us not forget that he will be on parole for a long time after that.

I hope he gets the above sentence.

trfcprincess 7 years, 7 months ago

The new evidence was the testimony of the girl who heard him say he was going to set his apartment on fire. Obviously, when something like that comes up, both sides need to investigate it. It wasn't the prosecutor's fault that this person had never come forward and they did what they needed to do in order to ensure that Rose got a fair trial. Again, a thankless job. When you win, you didn't do good enough. When you lose, it's always your fault. And everyone in town, no matter the extent of their legal knowledge, tells you how to do your job and what the law is.

camper 7 years, 7 months ago

I was a victim on that night, but fortunately I was not injured. To put things in perspective, it may be worth your time to drive past this block where these apartments were. First and foremost is the sad truth that three people lost there lives...otheres were seriously injured. Once you get past this tragic misfortune, it is almost unbelievable (but true) to think that an entire city block was demolished as a result of this fire.

I do not think I can ever thank my neighbor enough for pounding on everyones door who lived in our unit. Some people who were handicapped or disabled were no doubt able to get out because of this good neighbor. At some time I think this good citizen deserves to be acknowledged, I just don't know what the appropriate way to do so is. I also witnessed other residents and off duty police officers acting very bravely in the face of such a serious fire.

I have not really even to think if the charges are too lenient...I just don't know. I am not as qualified to render judgement because many suffered way mor than myself.

Sharon Roullins 7 years, 7 months ago

Camper, my daughter was a victim that night also. When I got the phone call from her, it took me about ten minutes to even understand what she was saying through her frantic screams. I have never been so frightened. She lived on the second floor and escaped by jumping through the bedroom window. Like others, she lost everything and I am still thankful today that her life was spared. Tragically, three people paid the price of someone not thinking something so harmless in his mind would result in such a horrific tragedy. She lost everything, not enough time to even think of "What should I grab?" The fire, you know, was so hot, that it burned cars that were parked out in front of the complex. Unfortunately, my daughter's car was completely destroyed also. Some people will never get it. They live in some type of fantasy world where nothing and no one else even matters to them. I am satisfied that Jason was found guilty and I pray that while he serves his time, he will have a chance to reflect on what he did and I hope it sinks in -- bottom line, 3 people lost their lives because of something that I did.

Eric Neuteboom 7 years, 7 months ago

Excellent post Camper and Msshaden. I wish more posters would put as much thought into their posts as the two of you have. I'm glad that you and your loved ones were fortunate to escape. Best regards.

leadrain 7 years, 7 months ago

MAN, That guy looks pissed. POOOOR BAAAABY!

mechman 7 years, 7 months ago

lets see how he squirms when boardwalks ins compamy goes after him for damages.................

Ragingbear 7 years, 7 months ago

I found myself outside naked, with a blanket wrapped around me. When I answered the door to see who banged on it, the fire was so close, and moving so quickly that I realized that I didn't even have time to run into my bedroom and grab my pants (containing my wallet and keys) and my glasses. Do you realize how hard it is to be required to read and sign large amounts of paperwork without glasses?

I was fortunate that somebody had some clothes I could have because of my state. Many people were outside in their undergarments. I believe that there was at least one or two others in a similer condition of undress as I.

To top it off, the month before I had made a series of major purchases (disability back pay) and started to rebuild my life. I had not yet gotten renters insurance. I had 5 different policy statements on my desk. I would have been insured by the end of the month.

This guy needs to understand that he did more than just kill three people. Many people had their lives turned upside-down. Many other people ended up having to move in with family or friends because they lost everything, including several people's vehicles as well. Let us not forget that many people suffered mental anguish and PTSD from that incident. I usually have at least one or two nights a month where I think that the building I live in might be on fire.

institches 7 years, 7 months ago

sorry to say, but the most he could spend in prison is 122 months, that is double the time, if the judge finds the conviction "aggrevated" on the most serious offense he was convicted of ( agg arson-). At least that is how it was explained. All the rest of the counts, will be run concurrently ( same time). I pray for the ones who lost their lives and the ones who were injured. God bless you and the families affected. This is a piece of Lawrence History that should never be repeated.

Centrist 7 years, 7 months ago

It is NOT the fault of the "system", although you could say it contributed.

EVERYONE knows that when you set fire to a structure in it that houses people, there's a strong chance someone will get hurt or killed.

What happened to good old-fashioned responsibility?

The guy set a fire - on PURPOSE.

People DIED, for gawd's sake, and others have been badly hurt, some will never be the same.

I'm amazed by the contradicting reactions. His pastor is convinced he's innocent, yet his attorney is "happy" - wonder why? Because the attorney KNOWS this guy DID IT. When have you ever heard of a defense attorney being "happy" that their client is going to jail for (probably) a decade or more?

Get a clue, folks. This pr**k set a fire that he KNEW might HURT or KILL people. How could you not?

What value on human lives any more?

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

I would have preferred felony murder, but I wasn't in court and didn't hear the evidence. The Jury must have agreed that Rose's acts were reckless and not intentional. From what I've read about the trial, the jury's verdict appears reasonable and I trust their judgment. I haven't heard of Rose having a previous criminal history and involuntary manslaughter is a level 5 person felony, so he is in a "borderline" box. 32 months with neither presumptive probation nor presumptive imprisonment on each count. I can't imagine no imprisonment in this case so the only real question is whether or not the sentences run consecutively or concurrently. I wouldn't want Judge Murphy's job for anything as he will be second guessed no matter what his decision.

A layman's explanation of the Kansas sentencing guidelines and grid can be found of the Sedgwick County DA's website. http://www.sedgwickcounty.org/da/explain_sentence_grid.html

The Kansas involuntary manslaughter statute is here. http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatute.do?number=11603

nwbearcat 7 years, 7 months ago

He intentionally set a fire; hurting people was an inherent part of his actions. Dying in a fire is a horrible death. I hope the horrors of prison haunt him every day.

Centrist 7 years, 7 months ago

Weird how "reckless" takes away the "intent" ...

That's it. I'm going to go crazy tonight and be reckless. Oh wait, is there any intent in that?

JSDAD 7 years, 7 months ago

no matter how you look at it, it's a sad f'ed up deal.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Aggravated arson is indeed a level 3 person felony, with no previous criminal history presumptive prison for 59 months. http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteFile.do?number=/21-3719.html Feel completely free to to ignore my posts

one_track 7 years, 7 months ago

The simple facts are he set a fire and now my friend Jose is gone. Now insted of talking to him in the morning I have to go to Oak Hill to visit him. Rest in pace my friend

lwhittemore 7 years, 7 months ago

Interesting result on the felony murder rule. Many states have serverly limited or eliminated this rule altogether. It is a pretty outdated rule that eliminates the requirement that the actor have the criminal intent requisite for actual murder (the whole malice aforethought thing). This "inherently dangerous" limitation is pretty common. I wonder if Judge Murphy is trying to nudge the law just a tiny bit towards a further limitation of the rule?

hk45 7 years, 7 months ago

I believe 2nd Degree would have been better, but hopefully Judge Murphy will run the sentences consecutively so he will spend many years in prison. It is good to the see the justice system work and put a guilty man away for hurting so many people and their families.

friend_of_victim 7 years, 7 months ago

I would like to commend Nancy Bingham on her unbelievable strength and grace. There are few people in this world that could have the optimism and love that she does. I am however disappointed with the conviction. The fire was so big and destructive that I find it to be a lapse in common sense to say that he didn't intend to hurt anyone. Plus, it was in the middle of the night! I think that the jury must have felt sorry for him or something. He is obviously guilty of felony murder. Involuntary manslaughter is for people who kill others in car wrecks, etc. This is an obvious example of, at the very least, depraved indifference to human life, which still counts in the felony murder realm. I am glad that it is over though. Now maybe we can grieve the losses that we suffered. My condolences to all of the other family and friends of the murdered and also to the permently injured survivors.

Newell_Post 7 years, 7 months ago

Depraved indifference to human life = second degree murder in many states. Not a lawyer. Don't know about Kansas law...

Ragingbear 7 years, 7 months ago

Could have been worse. He could have gotten Judge Martin who would have decided that the victims facilitated their own death and destruction of property by being asleep when it was set.

We can also expect some prison justice.

gccs14r 7 years, 7 months ago

It has been reported that the guy has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. He should not have been living unsupervised. The State bears some responsibility for putting him in an independent setting with inadequate oversight. For those of you who want to fry him, think of him as a second-grader, not as an adult. He's not all there.

KsTwister 7 years, 7 months ago

8.58 years left to go and he will be out and ready to do it all over again? Yes, this guy was let off very easy for causing death and the destruction of people's lives. Remember his name, I fully expect you'll see it again in the future.

HappyFace 7 years, 7 months ago

I think that this guy is mentally ill. That will not bring back the people that lost their lives...or cure the folks with emotional problems from the trauma of this....let alone the lose of all of their possessions. I am glad that they are not just gonna lock him up in a mental hospital (as pleasant as that is)...but put him in with "Bubba".... :)

I hope that the sentence fits the true crime here. He shouldn't ever get to walk the streets again.

BTW.......Isn't that pastor the same one that thought that Marty Miller was innocent too? ...and that gal that he married...didn't she go there too? What is up with that?

lionheart72661 7 years, 7 months ago

I agree with the comment about how can you call this involuntary manslaughter. The man VOLUNTARILY set fire to an apartment complex that killed 3 people. 122 months is only 10 years and 2 months then subtract 15% off of that and the 19 months he has already served he will be out in 7 years. i have a friend that did 5 years flat for an aggravated assault he did not commit. In fact he was the one assaulted. the other person did no jail time. This young man committed a very serious crime to which 3 innocent people died so how can anyone sit in this site and defend him? as for the comment stated by someone earlier "how can you say he got off easy"? Well what would you think had it been one of your relatives that died in that fire. "THINK ABOUT IT"

m1983 7 years, 7 months ago

lionheart..well said.. it's unbelievable that he gets a slap on the wrist because he's a mental case.. whatever happend to accountability for your actions? he'll get out in 7-10 years and do it again...

Linda Endicott 7 years, 7 months ago

As I recall it, the original story was that he set a box of papers on fire. That fire got out of hand, and the apartment complex caught fire.

And that's where the "negligent" part comes from. Though he may have set fire to the papers, that doesn't mean that he intended to set the complex on fire, or that he intended for people to die.

There's a big jump in assumptions there.

There was no physical evidence tying him to the fire. They couldn't even agree in court as to where the fire originally started. Nobody saw him set a fire, any fire, even if it was only a box of papers.

Guilty? I don't know. The jury found him guilty, but probably mainly because it seems a good lot of the public thought he was guilty. Do you think it was in the jurors minds that if they didn't find him guilty of something there would be a big hue and cry? Probably.

I have seen some supposedly smart people do some incredibly stupid things. Yeah, people go out driving when they've been drinking. Doesn't mean they intend to get in an accident. Doesn't mean if they do get into an accident and someone is killed that they intended for anyone to die.

Is it logical to assume that if you do something foolish, something worse could stem from it and somebody get hurt, even if you didn't intend for it to happen? Sure. But we have a whole generation of young people out there now who think nothing of doing foolish things, because they think any bad things will always happen to someone else.

I have no idea whether he's guilty or not. But it sure is comforting to know that there were apparently so many people out there with binoculars and magnifying glasses who can be so sure it was him and that he did it intentionally. Gosh. I guess no one was ever convicted of a crime they didn't actually commit.

Justice is one thing. Wanting to hang someone just so you can have something or someone to blame for a tragedy is another.

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