Lawrence courts

One of five defendants in Lawrence home invasion pleads guilty
March 18, 2015
Driskell Alan Johnson, a defendant accused with four men in a home invasion in Lawrence in November, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of aggravated robbery.
Murder trial: McLinn describes killing Sasko in police interview
09:37 a.m., March 18, 2015 Updated 08:43 p.m.
Sarah Gonzales McLinn, 20, of Lawrence, appears emotionless while confessing to the brutal slaying of 52-year-old Harold “Hal” Sasko in a video of her police interview following her arrest in Florida last year. McLinn is charged with intentional, premeditated murder in the Jan. 14, 2014, death of Sasko, a Lawrence resident. McLinn lived with Sasko at the time of his death and had previously worked for him at Sasko’s CiCi’s Pizza restaurant. By Caitlin Doornbos
McLinn trial: Jury selection begins in CiCi’s Pizza owner slaying case
11:30 a.m., March 16, 2015 Updated 10:23 p.m.
Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson and defense attorney Carl Cornwell began jury selection Monday morning in the first-degree murder trial of Sarah Gonzales McLinn, 20, of Lawrence. By Caitlin Doornbos
Court threatens to block new school funding plan
01:29 p.m., March 13, 2015 Updated 08:52 p.m.
A three-judge panel in Topeka issued an order Friday suggesting it might block any new school funding plan from taking effect while the ongoing school finance lawsuit is pending. By Peter Hancock
Woman testifies defendant admitted involvement in homicide
06:05 p.m., March 11, 2015 Updated 10:40 p.m.
The mother of defendant Archie Robinson’s children testified at his first-degree murder trial Wednesday that Robinson told her he was involved in 39-year-old Patrick Roberts’ shooting death because he was “being greedy.”
A full docket: three first-degree murder jury trials set for March
March 8, 2015
Over the next five weeks, Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin will preside over three nearly back-to-back first-degree murder jury trials. Here’s a look at the upcoming cases set for trial beginning Monday. By Caitlin Doornbos
Man convicted of 1999 rape and robbery at shoe store challenges 54-year sentence
03:32 p.m., March 4, 2015 Updated 10:39 p.m.
A 54-year-old man convicted of a 1999 rape and robbery at Payless ShoeSource, 3231 Iowa St., is challenging the 54-year prison sentence Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin handed down in 2001.
Bond amounts set on case-by-case basis
March 1, 2015
When reviewing bond amounts set for defendants in Douglas County, it can be a bit confusing. While one defendant charged with a DUI may receive a $250 bond, another may get a $500 bond. That’s because according to Kansas statute, the decision is left entirely up to the judge. Judges must base their decision on a number of factors, balancing the defendant’s needs with the safety of the community, but there are no official guidelines of which crimes come with what bond amounts. By Caitlin Doornbos
McLinn rejects plea offer; jury trial to begin March 16
04:45 p.m., February 27, 2015 Updated 10:40 p.m.
Sarah Gonzalez McLinn, charged with first-degree murder in the death of her roommate last year, rejected two versions of a plea deal this week, saying she’d rather try her case before a jury. The case is set for trial in two weeks.
Homicide defendant rejects plea offer, will stand trial March 9
03:52 p.m., February 27, 2015 Updated 10:41 p.m.
Charged with first-degree murder during the commission of an aggravated burglary, Archie Lamont Robinson, 30, of Lawrence, will face his jury March 9, after rejecting Assistant Douglas County District Attorney Amy McGowan’s plea deal Friday.
Kansas legislators take up measures targeting Kansas Judiciary
February 21, 2015
As the mid-point of the legislative session approaches, Kansas lawmakers will turn their focus to measures that could bring big changes to the Kansas court system. Two constitutional amendments have already advanced that would change the way Supreme Court justices are chosen. Another would lower the mandatory retirement age for judges, automatically removing several sitting judges from the bench. By Peter Hancock
Appeals court upholds Lawrence man’s murder conviction
01:47 p.m., February 20, 2015 Updated 10:21 p.m.
Christopher Belone, of Lawrence, was convicted of beating his girlfriend Linda Begay to death in 2006. His first conviction was overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court, but after a new trial he was convicted a second time of unintentional second degree murder. The Kansas Court of Appeals on Friday upheld the second conviction. By Peter Hancock
Kansas judge files suit challenging 2014 judiciary changes
04:59 p.m., February 18, 2015 Updated 10:04 p.m.
Judge Larry T. Solomon of Kingman County filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging a law that changes the way chief judges in the district courts are selected. The suit, which is backed by the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice, alleges lawmakers were retaliating against the Kansas Supreme Court for its decision in a school finance case. By Peter Hancock
Kansas commune leader found guilty of drowning woman in pool
February 18, 2015
A man who led a Kansas commune that collected millions of dollars in life insurance payouts from dead members was convicted of premeditated murder Wednesday in the 2003 drowning death of a female member.
Judge to decide whether evidence of Martin Miller’s pornography, mistress can be presented
05:51 p.m., February 17, 2015 Updated 10:11 p.m.
The attorney of Martin K. Miller, convicted of killing his wife 10 years ago, argued Tuesday that evidence of Miller’s extramarital affair, use of pornography and siphoning of his children’s college savings accounts should not be admissible in his client’s March retrial.