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Archive for Friday, September 21, 2012

Kansas Supreme Court orders new trial for Lawrence man convicted in 2006 death of girlfriend

September 21, 2012

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Christopher Belone, 41, was convicted in the 2006 beating death of his girlfriend, Linda Begay. On Friday, however, the Kansas Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Belone.

Christopher Belone, 41, was convicted in the 2006 beating death of his girlfriend, Linda Begay. On Friday, however, the Kansas Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Belone.

The Kansas Supreme Court Friday ordered a new trial for a Lawrence man convicted in the 2006 death of his girlfriend.

Christopher Belone, 41, was convicted of second-degree murder in the beating death in July 2006 of Linda Begay, Lawrence. Begay died of an abdominal infection days after Belone struck her in the stomach with a coffee-table leg during a beating at Gaslight Village mobile-home park.

The court ordered a new trial after finding a district court judge erred in allowing into evidence statements Begay made to police she died. Based on case law decided following Belone’s conviction, the admission of such evidence violated Belone’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses, the court stated in its opinion.

A Kansas Court of Appeals previously ruled that Belone’s rights were violated when the statements were admitted, but found that “the error was harmless because of ‘overwhelming’ evidence,’” and denied a new trial.

The Kansas Supreme Court disagreed with that assessment, stating:

“Here, the state has simply failed to carry its burden of showing that there is no reasonable possibility that the violation of Belone’s confrontation rights contributed to the verdict. Without that degree of certainty, we cannot declare the error to be harmless.”

In 2007, Belone — who also was convicted of kidnapping, obstruction and violation of a protection order — was sentenced by Douglas County District Judge Jack Murphy to 48 years in prison. Murphy retired in January 2009.

At some point, Belone will be transferred back to Douglas County Jail, and a decision will be made what to charge Belone with, said Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.

“We are going to review the court’s decision and determine the best way to proceed. ... After the case was tried, new and significant interpretations were handed down by the United States Supreme Court with regard to the right to confrontation,” Branson said. “We will retry Mr. Belone but we will have to determine if this will affect what he is charged with.”

Comments

Lawrenceks 1 year, 12 months ago

How about the victims dying declaration? Dying declaration is testimony that would normally be barred as hearsay but may nonetheless be admitted as evidence in certain kinds of cases because it constituted the last words of a dying person. Come folks, lets get real here! He killed her!

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ebyrdstarr 1 year, 12 months ago

To be a dying declaration, the statement has to be made while the victim was conscious of her impending death and had no hope of recovery. In this case, the interview with the police happened while she was resting comfortably in the hospital. Per the court's opinion, her condition did not turn more serious until two days later. There is no way the interview could be considered a dying declaration.

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Steve Jacob 1 year, 12 months ago

Blame the judge on this one. You have the right to a fair trial. But the ruling also tells people to make sure the victim can't make it to trial, and that's a bad.

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Loretta James 1 year, 12 months ago

This country is good at protect the THUG and to hell with the victim.

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