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State v. Watkins

October 5, 2007

STATE OF KANSAS, APPELLEE,
v.
TICIA M. WATKINS, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Butler District Court; JOHN E. SANDERS, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Under K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 21-3106(11), the filing of a criminal complaint and the delivery of the warrant to law enforcement for arrest commences prosecution and begins tolling the statute of limitations so long as the warrant is executed without unreasonable delay.

2. The key to analyzing the reasonableness of a warrant execution is to look at what the State did, not what it did not do. Reasonableness must be determined on each case's own facts and circumstances.

3. The warrant in this case was executed without unreasonable delay when the sheriff alerted area detectives to watch for the defendant, entered the defendant's name into the NCIC computer system, asked other law-enforcement officers for assistance in locating the defendant, rechecked the NCIC system for new information, obtained information about specific events that the defendant might attend, and obtained information about the defendant's residence in various motels while following up to try to locate her at some of them. In addition, the defendant was stopped in a traffic stop while the warrant for her arrest was active, but she avoided arrest only by using her sister's identity.

4. A limited delay in executing a warrant to allow continued use of a confidential informant can be reasonable.

5. A party generally may not raise an objection to the admission of evidence for the first time on appeal. Although constitutional grounds for reversal may sometimes be heard when they involve only a question of law arising on admitted facts or when necessary to prevent the denial of fundamental rights, such claims are not heard when the testimony complained of was brought forward by the defendant's attorney.

6. In State v. Sherry, 233 Kan. 920, 929, 667 P.2d 367 (1983), the Kansas Supreme Court held that the confrontation right is a trial right that does not apply at a preliminary hearing. Sherry remains good law after the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 158 L. Ed. 2d 177, 124 S. Ct. 1354 (2004).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leben, J.

Affirmed.

Before McANANY, P.J., LEBEN, J., and BUKATY, S.J.

Ticia Watkins committed six felonies related to the sale of cocaine: three counts of sale of cocaine and three counts of failure to have a drug-tax stamp. We know that she committed these offenses because she has been convicted and on appeal she does not suggest any inadequacy in the evidence used to convict her. Rather, the primary question she presents to us is whether it was proper to try her at all. She contends that the statute of limitations expired in this case before she was arrested--and her argument is valid unless the warrant was executed "without unreasonable delay." Here, law-enforcement officers took several steps to execute the warrant, and they would have succeeded well within the limitation period had Watkins not lied about her identity when she was stopped for a traffic violation. We find no unreasonable delay in execution of the warrant here and no other reason to overturn her convictions.

At the time Watkins committed these offenses in February and March 2003, K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 21-3106(8) provided that prosecution for these crimes "must be commenced within two years after it is committed." The statute of limitations "starts to run on the day after the offense is committed." K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 21-3106(10).

Two rules that can stop the running of the statute of limitations are of significance here. First, the filing of a criminal complaint and the delivery of the warrant to law enforcement for arrest of the defendant "commences" prosecution, thus tolling the statute of limitations, unless "the warrant . . . is not executed without unreasonable delay." K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 21-3106(11). If an unreasonable delay occurs in executing the warrant (i.e., arresting the defendant), then it "shall be included in computing the period within which a prosecution must be commenced." State v. Washington, 12 Kan. App. 2d 634, 637, 752 P.2d 1084, rev. denied 243 Kan. 781 (1988). Second, the statute does not run for any period during which "the accused is concealed within the state so that process cannot be served" upon her. K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 21-3106(9)(b).

Prosecutors filed a complaint against Watkins on April 22, 2003; the complaint alleged criminal acts between February 25, 2003, and March 19, 2003. Watkins was not arrested on the warrant until May 6, 2005. Thus, her arrest came more than 2 years after the offenses were committed. So unless one of the two rules we've mentioned that stop the running of the statute of ...


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