Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prosecutor should appeal mistrial ruling in murder case

On Nov. 27, a Jackson County Judge orally dismissed a murder case against a man charged with the 2007 homicide of Eliseo Thomas. Judge Robert Schieber said he did so because KCPD Detective Danny Phillips testified that he had known the defendant prior to this case. Judge Schieber said this was prejudicial. You can read more about what happened in this Kansas City Star article.

A formal, written order was issued yesterday in Jackson County Circuit Court dismissing the case, concluding that Det. Phillips “intentionally provoked defense counsel into requesting a mistrial.”

The basis for this conclusion was the Judge’s view that Detective Phillips responded to a question inappropriately while on the witness stand. Based on the facts provided to me and after talking to Detective Phillips, I respectfully disagree with the Judge’s characterization of the testimony. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the conduct of the detective on the witness stand was not intentional but rather a miscommunication that led to this unfortunate result. Although there was an opportunity to clarify the detective’s testimony, no testimony was elicited by the lawyers present to clarify what the Judge characterized as his inappropriate response to the question asked by the defense counsel. It is my belief that a simple follow-up question to Detective Phillips would have clarified his answer and eliminated any question about the detective’s response. It is our hope that the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will pursue an appeal of the ruling.

Although it is always regrettable when any case is not successfully prosecuted, the men and women of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department strive to be highly professional, adhere to the rules of our courts and provide the best quality service to the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri each and every day.