A Douglas County jury Thursday morning acquitted a 34-year-old Lawrence man of charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery related to a March incident in east Lawrence.
Prosecutors had accused Leon Kimball of robbing and injuring a man and forcing another man into a car against his will. Kimball’s defense attorney Sarah Swain said prosecutors did not have evidence her client committed a crime.
“None of the witnesses the state called were able to tell a consistent story about what happened that night,” Swain said.
The defense contended Kimball had gone to an apartment complex in the 1400 block of Haskell Avenue the night of March 26 to support his cousin, Tasha Barnes, 34, of Lawrence, and her boyfriend at the time, Joshua Haynes, 22, because Barnes wanted to confront someone who was harassing her. Swain alleged two men attacked Kimball and that her client defended himself, injuring one of the men but not robbing him of any money. She also said there was no evidence Kimball forced another man into a car.
“The state didn’t have that evidence, in my opinion, because it didn’t exist,” Swain said.
Haynes pleaded no contest to misdemeanor criminal restraint and criminal trespassing in April, and Barnes pleaded guilty to the same charges. Both were sentenced to probation.
“We knew there were inconsistencies in this case. However, given the co-defendants entered pleas in their cases and the serious nature of the injuries to at least one victim, we had to choose to either try the case or dismiss the case,” Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said. “We chose to let the jury decide the facts.”
Kimball faced more serious felony charges than his two co-defendants, and he could have been sentenced to 30 years in prison if convicted on both counts, Swain said.
District Judge Michael Malone on Thursday morning released Kimball from his bond, and he left the courthouse with family members. Swain said he was a musician and planned to return to Indianapolis to live with his family.
The trial started Monday, and jurors deliberated for one hour Wednesday and 20 minutes Thursday morning before reaching a verdict.