Archive for Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Woman’s murder conviction expunged

Kathleen Cobb, seen here in court, was convicted of murdering a Topeka man in 1980. She served 16 years, and now her conviction has been expunged.

Kathleen Cobb, seen here in court, was convicted of murdering a Topeka man in 1980. She served 16 years, and now her conviction has been expunged.

July 25, 2012


TOPEKA — A former Lawrence resident who was convicted of murder in a high-profile case more than 30 years ago has had her conviction expunged.

The expungement for Kathleen Cobb means that when a criminal background check is conducted for employment, the conviction will not show up on her record.

Cobb’s expungement was approved by Shawnee County District Court Judge David Debenham. A spokesman for the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office said the office opposed the expungement because of the seriousness of the crime. Debenham declined to comment on the case.

When the Lawrence Journal-World requested to see the legal petitions and expungement order, Shawnee County officials said no records related to the case could be released.

Cobb has moved out of Kansas and declined to comment about the issue.

Cobb served more than 17 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Henry Davis, a Lawrence resident.

At the time of the incident, Cobb and Davis were both 22, close friends and drug users.

According to testimony at the time, Cobb had said that Davis asked her to help him commit suicide. He wanted to kill himself because he had a premonition that he would suffer a car crash and long, painful death, Cobb said.

On Feb. 27, 1980, Cobb and Davis were on a country road southwest of Topeka. Cobb administered two doses of cocaine to Davis.

The cocaine caused Davis to go into convulsions. Cobb panicked and tried to smother him. Then she screamed, “God, please forgive me,” and shot him in the back of the head.

Cobb, who turned herself in to police, insisted she was assisting in Davis’ wish to end his life, which carried a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Davis had written a suicide note. But a jury said it was murder and she was sentenced to life in prison with the first chance at parole after 15 years. She appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, but lost.

After getting out of prison in 1998, Cobb got a social worker’s degree and worked as a drug counselor in Wyoming.

In 2010, Cobb returned to Lawrence, working as a case manager for the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority.

She received a social worker’s license from the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board after a 5-3 vote by the board, which added numerous conditions to her license.

Last January, there was a hearing in a Shawnee County District Court on Cobb’s request to expunge her conviction, according to the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office. Judge Debenham issued the expungement order in February.


Louis White 5 years, 4 months ago

Sheesh this femme fatale has hoodwinked eveyone. Is the world really THAT hard up for social workers? Any judge that would deprive prospective employers' discovery of the character disorder of this individual is a judge with no sense of good judgement whatsoever.

Topple 5 years, 4 months ago

It's not pleasant work. Very high turnover rate due to low pay and having to put up with a lot of crap.

LeBo 5 years, 4 months ago

A felony can work at the Housing Authority, but not a qualified, educated, veteran!

Tim Quest 5 years, 4 months ago

Read the article - she's no longer a felon. Guess the joke's on you, sucker.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 4 months ago

She served her time, and improved herself, but still her felony expunged doesn't seem right.

Ian Sadler 5 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, because Social Workers are raking in the dough these days...?

jjt 5 years, 4 months ago

Why does the posting starting with "as Ryan explained...." continue to be allowed on the site? Clearly has nothing to do with the subject and is a spam sales thing.

Wiry 5 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 4 months ago

Out of all the posts on the forums, THAT'S the one you want removed?

jackpot 5 years, 4 months ago

Flag it for removal. I do it any time I see them. I click the name and flag all the same type of comments.

happykitty 5 years, 4 months ago

"You without sin cast the first stone." God forgives ALL sin and casts that sin as far as the east is from the west, never to be remembered again. Why can't we?

fu7il3 5 years, 4 months ago

Have you shot someone in the back of the head? I'm pretty sure you are allowed to cast stones on that one.

pace 5 years, 4 months ago

you sure don't know the bible. What an ignorant statement about forgiveness, and debt. I don't have a problem with you claiming that forgiveness means not paying a debt, but please understand it is your personal canon and not from the bible.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 4 months ago

Statutes allow expungment for certain crimes. This happened in the 80's, court would have to use statutes from then. Without checking, I do not believe you can expunge this under the statute today.

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 4 months ago

Forgot about all of this. Her father was pretty high up in administration at K.U. I went to school with Henry Davis who was an upstanding guy and didn't think he was involved in stuff like this.

greenworld 5 years, 4 months ago

key words- drugs, cocaine, gun , murder=prison What did prison do for her to let her out back into society?? Probly not a damn thing, if not make her less productive of a citizen. But being she did get out and is trying to help people she might be that one and a million circumstance that made it out.

Gareth Skarka 5 years, 4 months ago

The guy wanted to commit suicide. There was a note. The hayseeds in Shawnee County refused to take that into consideration, and found her guilty of a harsher crime, despite evidence to the contrary. Pretty open-and-shut case for expunging, especially since she served her time.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm usually reluctant to substitute my judgement for that of 12 jurors who heard all the evidence. And I'm even more reluctant to substitute the judgement of an anonymous poster in this forum for that of 12 jurors.

What you are entitled to, Gareth, is to give your opinion, which we the reader can agree with or not, to our heart's content. Your characterization of the jurors as "hayseeds" leads me to believe your opinion isn't worth a flip. If it was your intent to garner sympathy for Ms. Cobb, your comment had the opposite effect, as far as I am concerned.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

Gareth is acting like a douche with the whole hayseed thing (which applies to anyone in Kansas he disagrees with, not exclusively jurors), but he's not wrong here.

She committed a 5 year max crime (assisting suicide) and was convicted of first degree murder - of someone who had already written a suicide note and clearly intended to die. Had they convicted her of the crime she confessed to committing, her record would not have been expunged. I don't think she deserves a lot of sympathy here. She did shoot a guy in the head, but I do see why her record was expunged.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

If I had a nickel for every person who walked to the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge with the intent of jumping and then didn't, I think I'd be a rich man. A suicide note is a small piece of an overall jigsaw puzzle.

Maybe you're right. Maybe he would have committed suicide without the assistance. Maybe a referral to an appropriate mental health professional would have resulted in appropriate treatment and a life fulfilled. I don't know.

Bob Forer 5 years, 4 months ago

it wasn't just the hayseeds. Sally Pokorny, now a Douglas County Judge, helped prosecute the case.

Brian Conrad 5 years, 4 months ago

the guy wanted to commit sucide from drug induced thoughts of future car crash. YEP shot him in the head after hittin him with mass dose.. we all think that way .. you are sooooooooo right expunge this. but in no way expunge a dui or pot conviction...

Brian Conrad 5 years, 4 months ago

drug induced freak idea he was going to die in future car crash ... yep shoot him in the head after mass dose of cocaine.... if that is assisted suicide guess dr. K had the wrong idea he should have had a gun. by the way gun crime with drugs is more than 5 years you hayseed

jmadison 5 years, 4 months ago

Why are the records relating to expungement off limits? Is this a common practice?

geekin_topekan 5 years, 4 months ago

I love it when people claim a superior position based entirely upon what they have NOT done.

Toni Shelton 5 years, 4 months ago

I have a hard time understanding this. Someone convicted of murder having their record expunged. Even if she was just assisting someone with their suicide, I think it should be known that she is capable of doing such a thing. I know I couldn't have killed anyone like that for any reason......

Acey 5 years, 4 months ago

She also may have believed that "she [was] capable of doing such a thing." Pretty much all of us would say, "I know I couldn't have killed anyone like that for any reason."

She is doing the best thing she could do. She is a positive role model for those she works with. Good for her, and good for her family (whom I know and respect).

irvan moore 5 years, 4 months ago

what happened to the other woman in the case, ramona moon

greenworld 5 years, 4 months ago

Now comes the next question to everybody, would you trust this woman standing directly behind with a gun or no gun in hand. If u say yes, you are lying.

webmocker 5 years, 4 months ago

Calling strangers you know nothing about liars is not nice.

ironhead80 5 years, 4 months ago

This woman killed a man and payed for it by going to prison, and sounds like she turned her life around. There is no way she should have her crime expunged, she was convicted of a felony, killed another human.

Phoghorn 5 years, 4 months ago

Hey, one of my comments got disapeardedededed...

Hacky 5 years, 4 months ago

Those who judge others should look in the mirror and say (I have never done anything wrong in my lifetime) then and only then will they see the real truth!

Kat Christian 5 years, 4 months ago

"She served her time"???? I didn't know that killing someone warrented a certain amount of time in your life for prison and then you just go on with her life? Wow, too bad Henry can't come back from the dead so he can go on with his life. Something wrong with this picture - anyone else see it? Wonder how Henry's family feels about this. Not trying to be cruel but she "shot a man in the back of his head"...OMG.

Kat Christian 5 years, 4 months ago

Somehow I don't feel safer with this gal out of prison.

Brian Conrad 5 years, 4 months ago

now when she kills the next guy they can not even bring it up in court... good idea expunge ... she shot him in the f in head ... think it could stay in the file.

progressive_thinker 5 years, 4 months ago

From KSA 21-6614b:

(1) Upon conviction for any subsequent crime, the conviction that was expunged may be considered as a prior conviction in determining the sentence to be imposed

The convicted person does not have to disclose the expunged record when applying for some employment, but there is a long list of situations that the record must be disclosed. In short, the fact that a record is expunged does not provide hard and fast closure of the record.

dreamsindigital 5 years, 4 months ago

Henry was my uncle. He had no children of his own and I am his only relitive born to any of his siblings. Having read the comments that have been made up to this point alsong with some additional insight very few have about him I want to say that I am sure he never needed Cobb's assistance to successfully commit suicide. Henry had first hand, real life education in how to kill yourself. Around 5 years before Henry's death happened he had a very close member of his family take his own life. His whole family was very aware as to how to kill yourself without asking anyone for assistance. In my opinion, Henry was making an attempt to reach out to a friend for help not to actually follow through with it, but rather he may have been going through the motions, and doing a bang up job convincing another that his heartfelt desire was death, and wishing that his friend would insist that they would never support such a permanent solution to a temporary problem. and he may have actually was seeking was his friend to show him unconditional love and support, but his friend, in her confusion thought her actions to further his death was acceptable, compassionate behavior on her part. Well true reality and the reality perceived by someone can be radically different. Cobb's idea of compassion and behaving in a humane way was not the same as what the ideal human, with the ability to act as we all hope happens in situations like this one. I understand that she served her sentence and qualified to be released. I'm alright with that. But I feel that part of the punishment in this matter is to have a murder conviction on her record. I was tought that when you choose to break the law and the court finds you guilty for a crime it will follow you for the rest of your life. This belief is a well known way society makes criminal behavior less appealing. I am disappointed in our legal system for providing a loophole to someone that has been convicted with this type of offence to "cheat" on completing all aspects of the punishment given. Today, I was grateful Henry's mother was not alive to hear about the courts decision to clear Cobb's record. This is the first time in 18 years I have felt happy my grandmother is is gone. I don't feel good about it..

dreamsindigital 5 years, 4 months ago

And thank you for your comment. I was only 4 years old when my uncle died and don't have memories of him. When I was young the events specific to his death were not a topic that was discussed with me. The adults in my family hurt for many years after loosing him. When I was old enough to hear about him I learned that poor life choices will not only make a lasting impact on my life personally but they may cause the people in my life that have the deepest love me unbearable pain as well. I only learned about how the very end of his life had been brought on by a gun shot to his head when I was 26 from my wonderful aunt. I wish life had an easier was to help all understand these lessons we end up learning through tragic events like the ones he and my family had in their life.. But sadly some people are only able to understand this by living with events like these in their family.

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