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State v. Mburu

Court of Appeals of Kansas

March 13, 2015

STATE OF KANSAS, Appellant,
v.
DAVID MBUGUA MBURU, Appellee

Page 1087

Appeal from Johnson District Court; BRENDA M. CAMERON, judge.

Reversed and remanded.

SYLLABUS

BY THE COURT

1. An appellate court has jurisdiction to entertain a State's appeal only if it is taken within time limitations and in the manner prescribed by the applicable statutes.

2. The State may appeal the suppression of a confession or admission as a matter of statutory right under K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 22-3603 without showing that the suppression substantially impairs the State's ability to prosecute the case.

3. A stipulation by a party to an element of the offense in a criminal case is relevant because it unequivocally proves a material fact.

4. The law favors the admission of relevant evidence and the exclusion of such evidence is an extraordinary remedy that must be used sparingly.

5. A court may exclude relevant evidence if it determines that the risk of unfair prejudice substantially outweighs the probative value.

6. A defendant's stipulation precludes a defendant from asking the trial judge to suppress evidence because a defendant has agreed the evidence can be admitted and considered.

7. All evidence that is derogatory to the defendant is, by its nature, prejudicial to the defendant's claim of not guilty. Only relevant evidence that is unduly prejudicial may be excluded from consideration by the jury.

8. The State has the right and the duty to establish the elements of the crime charged.

9. A stipulation to evidence that could be legally admitted at trial absent the stipulation cannot be unduly prejudicial.

10. A court is required to submit an agreed-upon stipulation to an element of the crime to the jury for its consideration in the manner established in State v. Lee, 266 Kan. 804, 815-16, 977 P.2d 263 (1999).

Alex M. Scott, assistant district attorney, Stephen M. Howe, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, for appellant.

Catherine A. Zigtema, of Law Office of Kate Zigtema, LC, of Lenexa, for appellee.

Before ARNOLD-BURGER, P.J., PIERRON and BUSER, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1088

[51 Kan.App.2d 267] Arnold-Burger, J.:

David Mbugua Mburu is charged with the refusal to submit to alcohol or drug testing at a time when he had a prior driving under the influence (DUI) conviction or diversion. See K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 8-1025(a)(2). Mburu stipulated to a prior DUI conviction; however, the district court determined that the stipulation would not be presented to the jury because its prejudicial effect outweighed its probative value. Instead, the district court determined that it would provide the jury with an elements instruction that excluded the stipulated element. The State filed this interlocutory appeal, asserting that the district court must allow Mburu's stipulation to be presented to the jury because it is an element of the crime. In response, Mburu asserts that this court does not have jurisdiction to hear the State's appeal because the State is unable to show that the prosecution would be substantially impaired by the court's ruling. Moreover, Mburu asserts that even if this court does have jurisdiction, the district court did not err in suppressing the stipulation. Having carefully considered the record and the briefs, we find that we have jurisdiction to consider this appeal and that the court abused its discretion when it held that it was not going to provide the stipulation to the jury. We reverse and remand.

[51 Kan.App.2d 268]Factual and Procedural History

A man identified as Mburu was allegedly driving erratically in Johnson County, Kansas. A witness reported the erratic driving and followed Mburu until he stopped and parked his car. When officers arrived at the scene, Mburu was stumbling, his speech was slurred, and he smelled of alcohol. In addition, an empty bottle of vodka and an empty ...


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