Topeka Christopher Belone, who was convicted in the 2006 beating death of his girlfriend in Lawrence, deserves a new trial because there were major errors in his first trial, his attorney argued Thursday before the Kansas Supreme Court.
But Assistant Douglas County District Attorney Eve Kemple said even if there were errors, the jury would have arrived at a guilty verdict.
The court heard oral arguments in the case for about a half-hour and took the matter under advisement.
Belone was sentenced to nearly 49 years in prison for the slaying of Linda Begay, 37. He was convicted of second-degree murder, kidnapping and other charges.
Begay was struck several times in the stomach with a coffee table leg. She died several days later from an infection in her bowel caused by blunt trauma to the abdomen, medical officials said.
Michelle Davis, of the Kansas Appellate Defender's Office, said the jury in the 2007 trial before then-District Court Judge Jack Murphy, wasn't properly told about the possibility of convicting Belone of lesser charges of reckless second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter or manslaughter.
She said there was evidence to show that although Belone acted recklessly he had no intention to kill Begay. Belone, she said, said that Begay was intoxicated and attacked him.
Prosecutors said Belone was in a jealous rage when he found Begay in the another man's trailer at the Gaslight Village Home mobile home park, 1900 W. 31st St.
Kemple said the evidence was clear that Belone intended to kill Begay. He struck her repeatedly with the coffee table leg that had a bolt sticking out of it, she said. "He jams it forcefully, repeatedly into her stomach," she said.
Another dispute was over admitting as testimonial evidence, a recorded statement Begay made to police shortly after the incident.
Davis said Belone had no opportunity to cross-examine that testimony since Begay later died.
Justice Eric Rosen asked Davis, "The victim is interviewed in anticipation of an investigation and then the victim dies; that evidence is gone, we can't use it?"
Davis said during the first interview with police Begay was drunk and rambling. The recording "carried a lot of weight with the jury" but Belone's attorney had no opportunity to challenge her statements, she said.