Topeka The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man who was convicted of raping three girls and sentenced to life in prison.
The court cited five instances of prosecutorial and trial error in a ruling released Friday that overturned the conviction of Raul Manuel Magallanez. In a unanimous decision, the justices said he deserved a new trial.
Magallanez, of Emporia, was convicted of more than 50 counts of sex-related crimes against teenagers and was sentenced in 2007. The life sentence resulted under the so-called Jessica’s Law, which calls for a minimum 25-year sentence for adults convicted of any of seven violent sex crimes against anyone under 14. Judges can impose lesser sentences for compelling reasons.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Magallanez, who was 31 at the time, had unlawful sexual relations with three teenagers and got some of them drunk in 2005 and 2006. The girls were 13, 14 and 15 at the time.
The state Supreme Court ruled that Magallanez did not receive a fair trial, citing instances of prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments, errors in jury instructions given by the district court and the withholding of relevant evidence.
The decision, written by Justice Carol Beier, said the individual effect of any one of the errors might not have been sufficient to overturn a verdict, but the cumulative effect prompted the court to order a new trial.
During his sentencing in 2007, Magallanez maintained his innocence. He also had been convicted in December 2005 of promoting obscenities to a minor. Prosecutors said some of the incidents with the teenagers occurred after he was released from prison.