Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Acquittal in Wichita

John Sullivan, a Wichita PD, won an acquittal in State v. Nelsen, a Sedgwick County burglary/theft conviction. Here is his report:

Client was charged with burglary, theft, and misdemeanor possession of clonazapem. Back in October of 05, he was at a family party. His dad thought he was acting funny so they left and went to client's brother's house. Dad goes back to the party. At about 10 pm, Dad comes back and client is gone. No one knows where he went. At about 2 am, the alarm goes off at a Mortgage Broker's office. Twenty minutes later, the cops show up and find a broken window. They go in and find client hiding under a desk in the dark. He's got a highlighter, a computer memory chip, and a bottle of finger polish on him. He has a receipt from Target for the nail polish. He tells the police that he doesn't know where he is. In fact, he asks where he is. He says the last thing he clearly remembers is being at a party. He rembered trees and cars honking at him, but he didn't remember going to Target and buying nail polish. He told the police that he thought the highlighter and computer chip were his but he didn't know where he got them. He tells the cops the only reason that he could think of to explain why he was in the office was that he was cold. It was a cold night and he wasn't wearing a jacket. Ultimately, he doesn't even remember talking the police or being arrested. The next thing he remembers is waking up in jail.

Back in July client starts going to a psychiatrist on his own accord. The doctor tells im he was suffering from a dissociative fugue when all of this happened, so that's what we argued to the jury.

I compared him to Dorothy and the fugue to Oz in my opening. I got the cops to admit that his actions weren't consistent with a typical burglar. I had the doctor explain what a fugue is and what causes it. I used his dad tell his story and for sympathy (there was a lot of that). Unfortunately, we couldn't argue against the lonazapem - he had bought it from a friend a few days ealier. I did tell the jury that he had a prior and current prescription for it but did not at the time of the incident.

Anyway, the jury stayed out 50 minutes and--according to them--spent a lot of that time complaining about the fact that the state even prosecuted this case. They ltimatley decided he was not guilty of the theft and burlglary, but they didn't think he needed to go to Larned.

Good job, John. And thanks to Jeff Wicks for the tip. I suspected that there are lots of good verdicts in Wichita that I am just not hearing about!

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