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Charge dropped in HIV infection case

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One day before trial was scheduled to begin, prosecutors this morning moved to drop a charge against a Lawrence man charged with exposing women to HIV. The charge against Robert W. Richardson II was dropped in a hearing in District Court. Prosecutors said they also plan to drop the three other cases in which Richardson is charged with exposing other women to HIV- but that all four cases are being re-filed and consolidated into one case. Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said his office needs more time to research the state's law pertaining to HIV-exposure, in light of a defense motion filed earlier this month that challenges the law's constitutionality. "This case will be tried," Branson said. "The constitutionality of this issue is going to be decided. The only thing this is is the process. This has nothing to do with the strength or weakness of either side's case."Defense attorney Thomas Johnson filed a motion Aug. 7 arguing the law Richardson is charged with breaking- a felony called "Exposing another to a life threatening communicable disease" - is overly broad and unconstitutional. "All sex by persons who have knowledge that they are infected by a life-threatening disease is subject to prosecution," he wrote. "A statute this broad would be violative of an individual's liberty rights and due process."Richardson's first of four trials was scheduled to begin Wednesday. During a pre-trial hearing Monday, prosecutors asked for the trial to be delayed to give them more time to respond to Johnson's motion, but Judge Stephen Six turned down the request.The law was enacted in the early 1990s, but Branson said it appeared this would have been the first time a case charged under the law had gone to trial.He said his attorneys needed more time to research the history of the law, legislators' intent in drafting it, and laws in other states."We believe that it's appropriate for us to put together the best arguments that we can," he said. Richardson is still being held in jail and has a charge pending in Lyon County with bond set at $50,000. Branson said he also would have a new bond set in the consolidated Douglas County case.-contributed by [Eric Weslander.][1] [1]: http://www2.ljworld.com/staff/eric_weslander

Comments

dozer 7 years, 8 months ago

Moderation - I wouldn't get too excited over the dismissal of the case b/c they need some more time to research the issue. Branson stated they would take the guy to trial.

Trials aren't smash mouth football, they are more like a chess match.

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 8 months ago

dozer:

DARN!

Well, maybe he will hang himself in his cell!

Thanks.

Marion.

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Baille 7 years, 8 months ago

HIV? It would cover a hell of a lot more than that.

Influenza is the sixth deadliest disease in America when coupled with pneumonia. Untreated syphillis? Fatal. Colon cancer? Apparently it is now transmittable. What if your partner is immuno-compromised and you know it? Colds can be fatal.

"Intent" by the way is a legal term of art. Can't use the lay definition as a defense.

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

"All sex by persons who have knowledge that they are infected by a life-threatening disease is subject to prosecution," he wrote. "A statute this broad would be violative of an individual's liberty rights and due process."

I don't like Richardson, but I think his Johnson has it right. This law is overbroad and unconstitutional and it is no use blaming the DA's office. As I read the statute, it would be unlawfull for any HIV/AID's infected person to have sex even with partners who knew of the condition, consented to unprotected sex, and accepted the risk. Clearly this overbroad language and covers more than just the case where a HIV/AIDS patient fails to inform a partner of their condition and exposes that partner, without the partners knowledge, to a deadly disease.

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GardenMomma 7 years, 8 months ago

Oh no! Please ladies, watch out for this man. I hear he has cut his hair and started to look more "cleaned up." He's a smooth-talker and a psycho.

Please, please, please ALWAYS, ALWAYS wear a condom when one is having sex!!!!

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daman 7 years, 8 months ago

Since the case was dismissed by Branson, HIV boy is getting out unless he's being held on another case. I agree with "moderation", Branson should have "studied the law" prior to charging. Not seeing this issue precharging is bush league lawyering. Oh well, it's not like he has or had any experience as a prosecutor.

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Baille 7 years, 8 months ago

Here be the law in question:

KSA 21-3435.

(a) It is unlawful for an individual who knows oneself to be infected with a life threatening communicable disease knowingly:

(1) To engage in sexual intercourse or sodomy with another individual with the intent to expose that individual to that life threatening communicable disease;

(2) to sell or donate one's own blood, blood products, semen, tissue, organs or other body fluids with the intent to expose the recipient to a life threatening communicable disease;

(3) to share with another individual a hypodermic needle, syringe, or both, for the introduction of drugs or any other substance into, or for the withdrawal of blood or body fluids from, the other individual's body with the intent to expose another person to a life threatening communicable disease.

(b) As used in this section, the term "sexual intercourse" shall not include penetration by any object other than the male sex organ; the term "sodomy" shall not include the penetration of the anal opening by any object other than the male sex organ.

(c) Violation of this section is a severity level 7, person felony.

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dozer 7 years, 8 months ago

Marion - there is an anti-shuttling law that prevents states from starting a prosecution, then sending defendants to another state to start the process in that state, and then bringing them back to the original state.

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jogger 7 years, 8 months ago

There are other diseases (besides aids) which can be fatal. I don't remember anyone being arrested for transmitting meningitis or TB. Should someone with a contagious disease be quarrantined? What about those in the community with lowed immunity, perhaps cancer or even those with aids?

Having unprotected sex without mutual testing is a known risk. Intentional transmission -biting an officer, for instance- is not exactly the same.

This is complicated. HIV is more difficult to transmit than many other diseases the ARE being transmitted in our community, but no one is going to prison for that. DO we hold the public pool or the daycare responsible for crypto? Is it enough prevention to act after someone has become ill? Is it illegal if you take reasonable precautions -testing the pool, cleaning the day care, wearing a condom?

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karma_king 7 years, 8 months ago

it is a sham that the women he supposedly exposed HIV to haven't been revealed. they are more than likely out exposing HIV to members of the community. i guess what comes around will go around.

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 8 months ago

I am confident that Mr. Branson is doing the right things here, folks.

I will however be very concerned if this Typhoid Mary is let out on bond as he has clearly demonstrated a prediliction to continue spreading the disease.

In the mantime, extradition to Missouri could always be granted!

I know for a FACT that the Mo. court would impose a bond that would be unmakeable!

Thanks.

Marion.

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moderation 7 years, 8 months ago

Branson needs to study the law?????

He should have had that little aspect covered before he filed charges.

What a joke.

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aquakej 7 years, 8 months ago

My god, I would certainly hope that people with HIV do NOT have the right to have sex and not tell their partners. That would be a very scary world. Do I have the right to poison you and not tell you about it? Why on earth would this be legal? Aren't there cases from other states where someone was convicted of this? Surely there are precidents from other states!

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holygrailale 7 years, 8 months ago

aquakej:

Yes, this is the "gray" area (without precedent) that needs to be nailed down.

If the defense can establish a case where it is decided that HIV infection IS NOT "de facto" a lethal weapon, then others who infect their partners can use this case as a precedent that they can point to as a reason for charges to be dismissed.

This case has the determination of other cases riding on it.

=======================================

Does infection with HIV instantly confer "lethal weapon" status upon the carrier???

Do people with HIV have the right to have sex and not tell their partners??

Do partners of people infected with HIV have the right to know the HIV status of their partners before they become partners??

=======================================

It would appear to be obvious, but there is a lot in the law that isn't self-evident.

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aquakej 7 years, 8 months ago

"All sex by persons who have knowledge that they are infected by a life-threatening disease is subject to prosecution," he wrote. "A statute this broad would be violative of an individual's liberty rights and due process."

So, are they saying that if you have AIDS, it's your right to have unprotected, uninformed, sex with whoever you want? That's what I got out of this statement.

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holygrailale 7 years, 8 months ago

It's important to get this done correctly the first time, especially in the absence of precedent.

I have no problems with getting it done in such a way as to enforce justice.

I would hope that the defendant does not use this as an opportunity to flee the State if he is released from custody.

He is under representation, is he not???

I would hope that counsel would not advise him to do anything which would bring Federal charges into this situation.

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conservative 7 years, 8 months ago

I'll be frustrated if in the end this scumbag isn't convicted because of the phrasing of the law. I'm willing to accept that sometimes the wheels of justice move slower than we'd like.

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Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 8 months ago

something is it just me or is anyone else frustrated on this one?

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Kathy Gragg 7 years, 8 months ago

money talks and bullsh*t walks.

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DownHomeDude 7 years, 8 months ago

I think think the district attorney's office is making the right

decision in cosolidating all four cases into one case and one

trial!

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