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State v. Woods

Supreme Court of Kansas

May 1, 2015

STATE OF KANSAS, Appellee,
v.
KISHEN L. WOODS, Appellant

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Appeal from Sedgwick District Court; TERRY L. PULLMAN, judge.

SYLLABUS

BY THE COURT

1. The criminal trial of an incompetent person violates due process.

2. Under K.S.A. 22-3301(1), a defendant is incompetent to stand trial when the defendant cannot understand the nature or purpose of the proceedings or cannot make or assist in making the defendant's defense because of mental illness or defect.

3. K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 22-3302 governs the determination of competency to stand trial. Under its provisions, the defendant, the defendant's counsel, or the prosecuting attorney may request a determination of the defendant's competency to stand trial. If upon the request of either party, or upon the judge's own knowledge and observation, the judge before whom the case is pending finds there is reason to believe the defendant is incompetent to stand trial, the proceedings must be suspended and a hearing conducted to determine the defendant's competency.

4. Under K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 22-3302, when a defendant is charged with a felony and the conditions requiring a hearing are met, a district judge must conduct a competency hearing, with or without a jury within the judge's discretion, and may order a psychiatric or psychological examination of the defendant.

5. A defendant may raise both procedural and substantive competency claims. A procedural competency claim is based upon a trial court's alleged failure to hold a competency hearing or the failure to hold an adequate competency hearing. A substantive competency claim alleges an individual was tried and convicted while incompetent.

6. The standard for assessing whether a State's procedure for determining competency comports with due process is whether the procedure affords the criminal defendant on whose behalf the plea of incompetence is asserted a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate the defendant is not competent to stand trial.

7. On appeal, a reviewing court's inquiry regarding a district court's decision that a defendant is competent to stand trial is whether the trial court abused its discretion.

8. A party who raises the issue of competence to stand trial has the burden of going forward with the evidence, which will be measured by the preponderance of the evidence standard. When the court itself raises the competency issue, the court is not a party and cannot be responsible for coming forward with evidence but can assign that burden to the State because both the court and the State have a duty to provide due process and to provide a fair trial to the defendant.

9. There is a presumption that a defendant is competent to stand trial.

10. In determining whether a defendant's inculpatory statements to a law enforcement officer were freely and voluntarily given, a trial court looks at the totality of the circumstances surrounding the statements and determines their voluntariness by considering the following nonexclusive factors: (a) the defendant's mental condition; (b) the manner and duration of the interviews; (c) the defendant's ability to communicate on request with the outside world; (d) the defendant's age, intellect, and background; (e) the officer's fairness in conducting the interviews; and (f) the defendant's fluency with the English language.

11. K.S.A. 22-3408(3) provides that a district court in a criminal case may limit voir dire examination by the defendant, the defendant's attorney, or the prosecuting attorney if the court believes such examination to be harassment, is causing unnecessary delay, or serves no useful purpose.

12. When sufficiency of the evidence is challenged in a criminal case, an appellate court's standard of review is whether, after reviewing all the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, the reviewing court is convinced a rational factfinder could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Appellate courts do not reweigh evidence, resolve evidentiary conflicts, or make determinations regarding witness credibility.

13. Under K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 22-4906(a)(1)(F), all defendants convicted of first-degree murder must register under the Kansas Offender Registration Act, K.S.A. 22-4901 et seq. That statutory subsection does not require a district court to find that the crime occurred with a deadly weapon.

Korey A. Kaul, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, argued the cause, and Rachel L. Pickering, of the same office, was on the brief for appellant.

Matt J. Maloney, assistant district attorney, argued the cause, and Marc Bennett, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellee.

OPINION

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[301 Kan. 854] BILES, J.

Kishen L. Woods appeals his conviction and sentence for first-degree premeditated murder following the shooting death of his wife in broad daylight on a residential street outside their Wichita home. Woods advances several claims, some of which are interrelated. He contends the district court erred by: (1) failing to conduct an adequate hearing about his competence to stand trial; (2) finding him competent to stand trial; (3) failing to sua sponte order a second competency evaluation later in the proceedings due to his erratic behavior; (4) finding his confession to the police was freely and voluntarily given; (5) limiting the defense voir dire of potential jurors regarding mental illness and mental disability; (6) overruling his claim of insufficient evidence to support the first-degree murder conviction; (7) refusing to give a lesser included offense instruction on voluntary manslaughter; and (8) committing cumulative error. As to sentencing, he argues an Apprendi violation occurred when the district court ordered him to register as a violent offender, and further error when the district court had Woods sign a Notice of Duty to Register. We affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

Antonia Woods-Cratic sustained three gunshot wounds. One entered her left arm, exited her shoulder, and struck her jaw. The coroner testified this was consistent with someone lifting their arm as if to protect themselves from getting hit by something. A second shot entered the left side of her abdomen and traveled down into her left buttock. A third bullet entered her left scalp over her ear and perforated her brain. She died from the gunshot wound to the [301 Kan. 855] head. The coroner could not determine the order of the shots fired. Bullet fragments found in Woods-Cratic's body were identified as being fired from Woods' revolver.

Woods was apprehended at the scene. He made several incriminating statements to the arresting officer. He was also questioned by detectives in a videotaped interview a short time later at the police station, during which he admitted killing his wife. A jury convicted him of premeditated first-degree murder and criminal possession of a firearm.

Although many facts in this case are relevant to more than one issue, we attempt to provide the facts in a logical order as pertinent to the issue presented without unnecessary duplication.

Competence to Stand Trial

Woods advances three challenges regarding his competency to stand trial. First, he argues the competency hearing was inadequate. Second, he contends the district court erred when it concluded he was competent to stand trial. Third, he claims the court should have sua sponte ordered a second competency evaluation. None of these issues were raised by Woods below because he actually objected to the court's independent inquiry into his competence. We hold there was no error.

Additional facts

During a pretrial motions hearing, Woods' attorney informed the court that Woods had been previously diagnosed with schizophrenia and was not taking medication. Counsel said she had discussed a mental disease or defect defense with Woods, but Woods strongly preferred not pursuing it. Counsel stated Woods understood the charges against him and had been able to assist in his defense, but she believed he suffered from mental illness. Woods repeatedly interrupted, objecting to any discussion of mental illness. He frequently characterized the subject as insulting and stated he was an intelligent

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person. He made numerous other comments during this proceeding, such as stating his belief that the court could not help him, and declaring at one point, " It ain't really no help if the evidence that the State have against Kishen Woods."

[301 Kan. 856] The district court initially ordered a psychological evaluation, but that order was later modified to require a competency evaluation under K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 22-3302. The district court stated it believed Woods understood the charges but was not assisting in making his defense. The court also indicated it didn't know if " that was because it was a conscious decision or because of some component of psychological distress he's suffering from." Woods again objected to the court-ordered evaluation stating, " I already been down that road several years ago." He said he knew he was " not incompetent and I don't want to be wasting my time and my months and any more weeks on the same issue of this case."

The court-ordered competency evaluation was conducted by COMCARE, a Sedgwick County mental health organization where Woods had previously received services. The evaluator noted Woods had been diagnosed in 2009 with polysubstance dependence during a restorative treatment for an earlier competency issue in another criminal case. Woods' diagnoses between 2009 and 2011 included " Schizophrenia Paranoid Type and Polysubstance Dependence." At the time of the current evaluation, Woods' primary diagnosis was " Adjustment Disorder Unspecified," with a notation that " his impulsive behaviors . . . are reflective of his lower level of intellectual functioning and Antisocial Personality Disorder, as diagnosed by [Larned State Security Hospital] medical staff in 2009."

The evaluator concluded that Woods did not present with psychotic symptoms, and, for the most part, his thought processing was logical and thought content normal. His intellectual functioning was previously documented to be in the mild mental retardation range, and the evaluator explained Woods " is especially sensitive about this diagnosis." Woods said several times during the evaluation that he was " highly intelligent" and understood the charges, the penalty, the courtroom procedures, and roles of the participants.

The evaluator determined Woods was competent to understand the nature of the proceedings and assist in his defense. The evaluator further noted Woods could identify his attorney and had said he would continue working with her, believing she would " 'support [301 Kan. 857] me the best she can.'" The evaluation concluded by observing that Woods' conversation was at times erratic, but " it was likely not related to psychotic symptoms or mood disorder, but his effort to derail the process."

A competency hearing was held, during which Woods erupted into a tirade. He characterized the competency evaluation as an insult and indicated frustration that it was taking so long to begin trial. For example, he interjected, " Do you want to convict me of a murder case or do you want to insult my intelligence. . . . Because I'm tired . . . I'm tired of you bringing me up in here and keep insulting me a black man." Woods' outbursts continued through several attempts by the district court to complete the competency hearing. Eventually, the court read several sections from the COMCARE report into evidence and noted the evaluation had concluded that Woods was competent. In ruling Woods competent to stand trial, the district court stated, " I will defer to the professional in this case. . . . She has deemed in her opinion you are competent for trial."

Woods' competency to stand trial was not mentioned again during the proceedings, but there were a few instances when the court addressed Woods' behavior on the record during trial. Those will be discussed in the context of Woods' claim that the court should have sua sponte ordered a second evaluation.

Competency hearings under Kansas law

The criminal trial of an incompetent person violates due process. Medina v. California, 505 U.S. 437, 453, 112 S.Ct. 2572, 120 L.Ed.2d 353 (1992). In Kansas, K.S.A. 22-3301 et seq. governs competency to stand trial. A defendant is incompetent to stand trial if charged with a crime and, because of mental illness or defect, that defendant is

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unable: " (a) To understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against [the defendant]; or (b) to make or assist in making [the defendant's] defense." K.S.A. 22-3301; accord Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402, 402, 80 S.Ct. 788, 4 L.Ed.2d 824 (1960) (" [The t]est must be whether [the defendant] has sufficient present ability to consult with [the defendant's] lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding--and whether [301 Kan. 858] [the defendant] has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against [the defendant]." ); see also State v. Foster, 290 Kan. 696, 703, 233 P.3d 265 (2010) (" A defendant is incompetent to stand trial when he or she cannot understand the nature or purpose of the proceedings or cannot make or assist in making his or her defense because of mental illness or defect." ).

K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 22-3302 outlines the procedure for determining competency:

" (1) At any time after the defendant has been charged with a crime and before pronouncement of sentence, the defendant, the defendant's counsel or the prosecuting attorney may request a determination of the defendant's competency to stand trial. If, upon the request of either party or upon the judge's own knowledge and observation, the judge before whom the case is pending finds that there is reason to believe that the defendant is incompetent to stand trial the proceedings shall be suspended and a hearing conducted to determine the competency of the defendant." (Emphasis added.)

When a defendant is charged with a felony and the conditions requiring a hearing are met, a district judge must conduct the competency hearing, with or without a jury within the judge's discretion, and may order a psychiatric or psychological examination of the defendant. K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 22-3302(2)-(3).

Although this court has not previously articulated the distinction, defendants may raise both procedural and substantive competency claims. A procedural competency claim is based upon a trial court's alleged failure to hold a competency hearing or the failure to hold an adequate competency hearing. A substantive competency claim alleges an individual was tried and convicted while, in fact, incompetent. McGregor v. Gibson, 248 F.3d 946, 952 (10th Cir. 2001). Woods raises two procedural competency claims: (1) the inadequacy of the pretrial competency hearing; and (2) the district court's failure sua sponte to hold a second competency hearing. He also makes a substantive competency claim, arguing he was in fact incompetent so the district court erred when it concluded otherwise.

Since Woods' appeal is the first time he raises a competency claim, we might typically consider first whether Woods' arguments were preserved. But the State is silent as to that question, so we [301 Kan. 859] will move on to the merits. See Foster, 290 Kan. at 702 (review warranted of district court's failure to sua ...


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