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Archive for Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Prosecutors dismiss felony charges against man accused of not registering as sex offender

November 30, 2011

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Prosecutors and a defense attorney clashed this week about whether a 32-year-old Douglas County man was required to register as a sex offender.

After one day of testimony in a jury trial, Douglas County prosecutors Tuesday morning did dismiss three felony charges against Gustav Brune, accusing him of failing to comply with the Kansas Offender Registration Act in 2010 but said future allegations could land him back in court.

Defense attorney Napoleon Crews argued Brune wasn’t required to register under the Kansas law because his 2001 federal conviction for possession of child pornography would not be considered a sexually violent crime under Kansas law.

Crews said Brune’s federal conviction did not include the language “with intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires,” which is used in Kansas law to describe sexual exploitation of a child.

“Those two pieces of law do not mesh,” Crews said.

In light of that challenge, assistant district attorney Kathleen Britton on Tuesday morning agreed to drop the three felony charges against Brune, and District Judge Michael Malone dismissed the jury.

Crews also sent a letter Wednesday to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office requesting Brune’s information be removed from the offender registry website the state maintains.

Prosecutors did say they were still reviewing information and stopped short of saying Brune did not have to continue to register.

“In light of this challenge and the ongoing nature of the registration obligation, the state believed the best way to properly preserve its ability to present evidence under either ruling would be to dismiss the current charges,” District Attorney Charles Branson said.

According to a court transcript of Tuesday’s dismissal, Malone said he believed the issue in the case should have been decided by a judge and not a jury. But Malone also stopped short of saying the dismissal meant he ruled the statute did not apply in the case.

“Mr. Brune, when you walk out of this room, what you do is completely your decision, obviously,” Malone said. “But if the state disagrees with that, they could recharge you with a violation tomorrow, and I want you to understand that.”

Crews said he was convinced that Brune shouldn’t have had to register after he was paroled from federal prison and that it has affected his client’s chance at getting a job because his photograph and information was on the website.

He said he believed there could be other cases in the state in the same situation, who have federal or out-of-state convictions who might not be required to register.

“If this case slipped through the cracks,” Crews said, “there could be others.”

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