Kansas Supreme Court says judge botched sex offender’s first resentencing

Topeka — The Kansas Supreme Court issued a rare order directing the Brown County District Court to sentence a sex offender for a third time, saying the man was a victim of “judicial vindictiveness.”

Friday’s high court decision stemmed from a 2013 case involving Wyatt Brown, who was convicted of aggravated sodomy.

District Court Judge John Weingart initially sentenced Brown to 30 years in prison. Brown’s lawyers appealed the sentence, saying it was incorrectly articulated. The state Supreme Court agreed and ordered a resentencing.

The Brown County prosecutor originally agreed to a plea deal for a prison term below Kansas’ standard range of 554 months to 618 months and a penalty less than the standards of Jessica’s Law, in which a conviction likely carries a prison sentence of life without parole eligibility for 25 years.

In exchange, Brown agreed to plead no contest and waive his right to a trial that would have required the victim to testify.

The Kansas Court of Appeals, based on a technicality, instructed Brown to be resentenced because the district judge failed to properly declare an explanation, on the record, for departing from both the life sentence under Jessica’s Law and reducing the sentence to 360 months, or 30 years.

Weingart responded by adding one year to Brown’s sentence after the victim’s family said the appellate process forced them to relive the crime, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

At that hearing, Weingart said, “I really understand what the victim’s mom is telling me. I really, really do.”

Smith’s attorneys appealed again. The high court ruled Friday that Weingart effectively punished Brown for exercising his right to appeal, and ordered him to be sentenced for a third time.

Justice Carol Beier said in the opinion that “Brown’s due process rights were violated,” adding that the district court judge “simply was not free to lengthen Brown’s prison term because of his successful appeal.”

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