Archive for Tuesday, October 18, 2011

3-judge panel in Lawrence hears appeal of Matthew Jaeger, who was convicted in 2009 of kidnapping and mutilating his ex-girlfriend

October 18, 2011


Matthew Jaeger: Guilty Verdict

More coverage of the trial of a former Kansas University student accused of beating and kidnapping his ex-girlfriend.

Members of a Kansas Court of Appeals panel on Tuesday focused on whether they had the authority to overturn a conviction in a Douglas County kidnapping and battery case.

In 2009, a Douglas County jury convicted Matthew Jaeger, now 26, of kidnapping, aggravated battery and making a criminal threat in a case filed after his former girlfriend was beaten at her Lawrence apartment. Prosecutors said Jaeger, a former Kansas University student who is originally from suburban Chicago, burst into Francie Biggs’ apartment in October 2007, choking her and causing injuries to her vaginal area. According to testimony at the trial, Biggs was with another man, Dylan Jones, that night. Jaeger also was convicted of threatening Jones.

“If a jury makes a decision and that decision is never to be questioned, then there would be no need to have an appellate court,” Jaeger’s defense attorney, Pedro Irigonegaray, argued. “What we’re suggesting is the jury did have authority to make those decisions, but the decision that they made in this case is unreasonable based upon the evidence that they had to reach that decision. The circumstantial evidence just did not support it.”

But Andrew Bauch, an assistant Kansas attorney general, said Irigonegaray was asking the appellate judges to take on the role of trial judges instead of make legal rulings on the appeal.

“The court’s well aware that you are not allowed to do that,” Bauch said. “That’s what the jury did in this case. The jury got to decide the credibility and weight to give any witnesses.”

The arguments in Jaeger’s case and others before the three-judge panel — G. Gordon Atcheson, Karen Arnold-Burger and David Bruns — were held in the old courtroom that is now the Douglas County Commission’s meeting room on the second floor of the courthouse, 1100 Mass. The judges met in Lawrence as part of an effort by the court to conduct hearings outside Topeka.

Jaeger is serving a nine-year prison sentence and is currently an inmate at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. He was not at Tuesday’s hearing, but his parents, Jerry and Ann Jaeger, watched from the spectator’s section. Biggs also sat through the hearing.

Irigonegaray, who was Jaeger’s trial counsel, has argued there’s evidence that Biggs fell onto a bed rail, which caused her injury. He said expert witnesses for the defense who analyzed Lawrence police evidence from the crime scene made that determination.

“Isn’t it within the province of the jury to say this expert is not reasonable and we don’t have to believe them?” Atcheson interjected at one point. “It’s bought and paid for, so we don’t think this adds up here?”

But Irigonegaray argued the appellate court could determine that the circumstantial evidence prosecutors used added up to an unreasonable conclusion by the jury that Jaeger was guilty.

During Bauch’s presentation to the court, the judges also questioned whether Chief District Judge Robert Fairchild acted correctly in dismissing one juror, Shaun Edmondson, and replacing him with an alternate juror during deliberations.

Edmondson admitted he re-enacted the scenario of the victim in the case falling onto a bed rail.

The defense has argued the remaining 11 jurors only told officials that Edmondson had conducted his experiment after they believed they would be deadlocked. Edmondson was in favor of acquittal. But Irigonegaray said Edmondson brought up his experiment at the start of deliberations and the other jurors chose to disregard it, which was correct.

Biggs, who no longer lives in Lawrence, said she was pleased with how Tuesday morning’s hearing went and that she wanted Jaeger to serve his full sentence. She also said she hoped the case brought more attention to domestic violence and would urge other victims to come forward.

“I just hope that it can influence anybody else to do the same thing for themselves,” she said.

The judges took the case under advisement and will rule later, Atcheson said. If they don’t grant him a new trial, Jaeger could ask the Kansas Supreme Court to hear the case.


consumer1 6 years ago

money money money...MONEY!! Let's hope for justice in this case and not merely the ability of one's wealthy parents ability to sway the courts by badgering them endlessly by paying an attorney to continue to file appeals.

ebyrdstarr 6 years ago

Filing a direct appeal after conviction at a jury trial is not "badgering" the courts. It is standard operating procedure. Every defendant, no matter how reviled by the community, has an absolute statutory right to appellate review at this level. It would have been outrageous conduct for his attorneys not to file an appeal.

madameX 6 years ago

They do have that right, but not every defendant can afford it. So, yeah. Possibly money.

ebyrdstarr 6 years ago

They don't have to afford it. If defendants cannot afford appellate counsel, they get appointed appellate counsel. And there's an argument to be made that appellate public defenders, who do nothing but appellate work, are preferable to trial attorneys who sometimes also handle appeals.

madameX 6 years ago

I don't think that's true... I think they get appointed counsel at trial if they can't afford it but I think they're on their own if they want to appeal. Could be wrong, though.

ebyrdstarr 6 years ago

You are wrong. It's called the Appellate Defender Office and if that office has a conflict or is overloaded with cases, there are individual attorneys who contract to take appointed appeals as well.

madameX 6 years ago

I stand corrected. I did not know that existed.

Meryl Carver 6 years ago

That's not entirely correct. You're right that the constitution doesn't provide for an appeal--the State could, for the most part, decide to chuck the whole appellate system. However, once you have an appeals system in place it must comport with due process--i.e. the right to an attorney.

I agree that the arguments did not seem particularly strong, but you never know what an appellate court will do. Even if there is only a 10-20% chance of reversal (which is the generally agreed upon statistic for reversal on appeal), if you're the defendant there is nothing to be gained from not taking your best shot at it.

ebyrdstarr 6 years ago

Navyvet, the issue raised here was that Jaeger would not have had this appeal if he couldn't pay for an attorney. In Kansas, that is simply not true.

And, yes, it would have been outrageous conduct for Jaeger's attorneys not to file an appeal. There is no reason not to after a jury trial. Especially in a case like this one where there was clearly a litigated issue (the removal of the juror). I do question the wisdom of focusing on the sufficiency of the evidence, which is a weak appellate issue, but that just goes back to my point that on appeal, a defendant might be better served by an attorney who focuses on appellate work rather than a trial attorney.

ebyrdstarr 6 years ago

Did you miss the part where they DID have an issue? The juror misconduct thing? From reports I have heard, the court was quite interested in that issue. I fully agree that sufficiency is a bad argument, though in appellate work it has its time and place. This case does not appear to me to be a good one for it.

As for whether you've got nothing and should therefore not file an appeal, my advice to any defendant would be always to use an experienced appellate attorney and not the trial attorney. I would recommend having a separate attorney review the case for appeal before anyone can say whether there is nothing to appeal.

parrothead8 6 years ago

I'd really like to hear you explain your interesting theory to Francie Biggs. You know...the ACTUAL victim.

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

"barry o supports this persecution of the successful and we are all beginning to pay for that policy. If you take away any incentive to work hard and be successful, the lazy bums that make up most of society in Lawrence, will have no one to support them. " ==== HUH?

pace 6 years ago

I thought the sentence was light for the monster. I suggest his parents donate some money to the victims of such crimes. They would be better examples rather than just supporting their poor misunderstood monster.

mrbig 6 years ago

This guy is a D-Bag and should have had a longer sentence if changed at all.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

If the options are shoot him or hang him, I'd support either action.

somedude20 6 years ago

"But Matt had no more choice in his adoptive parents wealth than he had in being born white."

That is the only statement you wrote that is correct. He did have a choice to not bludgeon that poor girl's face and vagina (thank god the police stopped him while they were driving before him and his friend could kill and dump her) but I bet you think she deserved it though

somebodynew 6 years ago

LG40 - No one could ever accuse me of agreeing with you and they certainly won't in this case. You must have mixed your meds up today... Lawrence is a place that discriminates against rich in the Justice System ???? OK, what planet are you really from ??? I think it is pretty well established that if you are able to hire your own very good attorney (s) you have a much better chance of getting off or reduced plea bargains.

And I really, really don't see the stretch you made to the Pres. But then I don't see a lot of things that you see.

NY152 6 years ago

LawrenceGuy I think you have lost your mind!!!!! This low life needs to spend many years in Jail.

bd 6 years ago

Pedro the spotlight monger!

somebodynew 6 years ago

Correction - Pedro the (highly paid) spotlight monger.

Also, the previous article said there were 8 areas of appeal to be talked about. This makes it seem like only one ??? More to follow ????

ebyrdstarr 6 years ago

It would be really unusual to discuss all of the issues in the brief at oral argument. Generally, the parties only discuss a couple of them.

ebyrdstarr 6 years ago

If the Court of Appeals affirms Jaeger's convictions, they can file a petition for review to the Kansas Supreme Court. Then a petition for certain to the US Supreme Court (highly unlikely).

Then Jaeger could file a state habeas motion In Douglas County District Court. This would be when he would raise any claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. He could also raise new factual claims here, like new evidence.

irvan moore 6 years ago

do any of the rest of you remember when pedro was peter in the early 70s?

pace 6 years ago

Moot, You must have an interesting history. You empathize with the monster. He beat her, he abused her, she is lucky to be alive. I think the monster got off too light. I don't sit and fantasize about hurting him or feel he should be beaten and maimed. I don't feel like giving him even a bigger break. He got a light sentence, he will have parole. I pray he doesn't get his record expunged. People have a right to true history of a monster.

bearded_gnome 6 years ago

first, I want to say that for just once I agree with Pace here!

Moot and LG40 apparently live in another twisted dimension.
Moot: they were clearly not heading to the hospital. they passed at least two signs pointing in the opposite direction. heading the wrong way on 6th.
of course she didn't know how she got the injuries, FGS! she'd just suffered serious physical trauma there and in choking.
Moot, please go soak your head!

bearded_gnome 6 years ago

Biggs, who no longer lives in Lawrence, said she was pleased with how Tuesday morning’s hearing went and that she wanted Jaeger to serve his full sentence. She also said she hoped the case brought more attention to domestic violence and would urge other victims to come forward. “I just hope that it can influence anybody else to do the same thing for themselves,” she said. The judges took the case under advisement and will rule later, Atcheson said. If they don’t grant him a new trial, Jaeger could ask the Kansas Supreme Court

---I am so sorry that Ms. Biggs had to even sit through this. I sincerely hope that she's gotten lots of support, therapy physical and mental.

I hope she doesn't hurt anymore most of all.

geekin_topekan 6 years ago

There was a note on the local taxi cab's bulletin board that same year that read; "M. Jaeger is barred-violence/threats toward driver"

Jersey_Girl 6 years ago

I'm impressed with Ms. Biggs for sitting through all this and being there for this as well. She is a strong woman. And I agree that the Jaeger parents should donate some money to some domestic violence cause, although I doubt they will since it would show that they think their little darling really did it.

skinny 6 years ago

Matthew Jaeger should have gotten 40 years in prison for what all he did to that young lady!

MarcoPogo 6 years ago

Even Smitty said "Thank you" and that doesn't happen around here. (Unless you bump one of the boring YH threads.)

jaywalker 6 years ago

Pace, mrbig, skinny, bootlegger = Amen!

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