Topeka — A panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals on Friday affirmed the conviction of Matthew Jaeger, who was sentenced to nine years in prison for a brutal attack on his former girlfriend in Lawrence.
The three-judge panel considered numerous issues brought up by Jaeger, but concluded that he received a fair trial.
“Moreover, based on our review of the totality of the circumstances, we do not find that Jaeger was substantially prejudiced by any of his allegations of error,” the panel said, adding, “Finally, we conclude that the evidence in the record overwhelmingly supports the jury’s verdict.”
Elizabeth Herbert, one of Jaeger’s attorneys, said she and lead counsel Pedro Irigonegaray, intend to appeal the decision to the Kansas Supreme Court.
In 2009, a Douglas County jury convicted Jaeger of kidnapping, aggravated battery and making a criminal threat.
Prosecutors said Jaeger, a former Kansas University student who is originally from suburban Chicago, burst into Francie Biggs’ apartment in October 2007, choked her and caused severe injuries to her vaginal area. She was hospitalized for 11 days. An obstetrician and gynecologist said she had never seen such an extensive gynecological injury and that it probably resulted from the application of a significant blunt force.
Jaeger said there was insufficient evidence to support the kidnapping conviction. But the appeals panel noted that an eyewitness saw her being dragged to a car.
Jaeger also alleged there was insufficient evidence to support the aggravated battery conviction. Jaeger’s expert witness said Biggs’ injury was compatible with a “straddle injury” and that falling on a bed rail was probably the cause of her injuries. But doctors who treated Biggs said she did not suffer a straddle injury.
Jaeger also alleged that District Court Judge Robert Fairchild erred in limiting cross examination of Biggs regarding an alleged attempt to extort money from someone. But the appeals panel said the law did not allow for such evidence to be admitted.
Jaeger also sought a new trial because one of the jurors was dismissed for juror misconduct after the juror said he had tried to conduct an experiment with his girlfriend “to determine whether a person could fall onto a bed rail and suffer the same type of injury that Biggs suffered to her genitalia.”
Defense counsel said he spoke with dismissed juror and it was that juror’s opinion that Jaeger was not guilty, according to the appeals court opinion.
Fairchild “was placed in a difficult position” when finding out about the juror misconduct, the appeals court said. But the panel said that under the circumstances it was appropriate to dismiss the offending juror. He then spoke with remaining jurors and determined they had not been “contaminated” by the dismissed juror.
State of Kansas v. Matthew Jaeger ( .PDF )