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State v. Mattox

Supreme Court of Kansas

March 10, 2017

State of Kansas, Appellee,
Joseph Dathian Mattox, Appellant.


         1. Any fact that increases a mandatory minimum sentence must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

         2. Jurors are presumed to follow the instructions they receive in the district court.

         3. When a defendant is charged with a homicide in the death of one person, the facts cannot give rise to multiple counts of the charged crime and do not support a multiple acts appellate challenge.

         4. A district court has discretion to accept or reject a no contest plea. However, a district court should accept a no contest plea when the requirements of K.S.A. 22-3210 are met and the defendant does not contest the charge.

          5. To establish the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule, a party must show: (1) an event or condition occurred; (2) it was startlingly sufficient to cause nervous excitement; (3) the declarant perceived it; and (4) the declarant made the statement while under stress of nervous excitement.

         6. To invoke the Fifth Amendment right to counsel, a suspect must articulate the desire to have counsel present with sufficient clarity such that a reasonable police officer in the circumstances would understand the statement to be a request for an attorney.

         7. Whether a Miranda waiver was knowing, voluntary, and intelligent is determined based on the totality of the circumstances. In making such determination, this court considers the following nonexclusive factors: (1) the defendant's mental condition; (2) the manner and duration of the interrogation; (3) the defendant's ability to communicate with the outside world; (4) the defendant's age, intellect, and background; (5) the fairness of the officers in conducting the interrogation; and (6) the defendant's proficiency in the English language. The essence of such inquiry is to determine whether the accused's statement was the product of free and independent will.

         8. An accused does not have a Sixth Amendment right to have counsel present during a psychiatric evaluation.

         Appeal from Johnson District Court; James Franklin Davis, judge.

          Catherine A. Zigtema, of Law Office of Kate Zigtema LC, of Lenexa, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.

          Steven J. Obermeier, senior deputy district attorney, argued the cause, and Stephen M. Howe, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellee.


          Stegall, J.

         Joseph Mattox directly appeals his conviction and hard 50 sentence for the first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated robbery of Keighley Alyea in September 2009 in Johnson County. We affirm Mattox's convictions; however, we vacate Mattox's hard 50 sentence and remand for resentencing because the district court, rather than the jury, found the existence of aggravating factors by a preponderance of the evidence, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt, in violation of Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013).

         Factual and Procedural Background

         We recited the basic facts of Alyea's brutal murder when we affirmed the conviction (following a separate trial) of Mattox's codefendant and cousin Dustin Hilt.

"Johnson County detectives found the body of Hilt's ex-girlfriend, Keighley Alyea, in a field in Cass County, Missouri. Alyea had been stabbed dozens of times with a knife. Her body also showed signs that she had been asphyxiated and had suffered blunt-force trauma to her head.
"Six days before Alyea's body was discovered, she had invited Jessika Beebe; Beebe's daughter; and Beebe's boyfriend, Shawn Merritt, to spend the night at her apartment. Beebe and Merritt did not feel safe staying at Beebe's residence because they feared Beebe's brother, James. Two days earlier, James had intentionally rammed his vehicle into Alyea's vehicle and threatened to 'shoot [Merritt's] house up.' James was later arrested in connection with this incident.
"Merritt was so concerned about James' threat that he told Alyea he needed to get a gun for protection. Alyea suggested to Merritt that he contact Hilt. That night Merritt used Alyea's phone to send a text message to Hilt to ask if Hilt knew where to get a gun. After a series of text messages between Hilt and Merritt, Hilt asked for a ride. Merritt returned the phone to Alyea, and Hilt sent two additional messages requesting a ride. Alyea then sent a message identifying herself and asked Hilt if he wanted to 'come kick it.' Hilt again said he needed a ride. Shortly after 1 a.m., Alyea agreed to pick Hilt up and asked if he was with anyone else. Hilt responded that he was with Scott Calbeck. Before Alyea left to meet Hilt, Beebe advised her not to go.
"About 2 a.m., Hilt; Calbeck; and Hilt's cousin, Joe Mattox, entered a QuikTrip convenience store. . . . Meanwhile, Alyea, who was waiting in her car outside the convenience store, called her stepsister. Alyea accused the stepsister of having had sex with Hilt, threatened to beat her up, and then hung up. A heated text message exchange between Alyea and the stepsister followed-full of threats, name calling, and other insults. Alyea sent her last text message at 2:50 a.m. The stepsister would later testify that she had sent a text message to Alyea at 2:53 a.m. and expected it to elicit an immediate response. Instead, no response ever came.
"When Beebe woke up about 11 a.m., Alyea was not in the apartment. Beebe tried calling Alyea multiple times. When that was unsuccessful, she called Alyea's family and checked at Alyea's work, the hospital, and the jail. She did not find her.
"The Overland Park Police Department began a missing person investigation. Sergeant Thomas Smith interviewed Hilt and asked when Hilt last talked with Alyea. Hilt said it had been several weeks or months. When presented with a printout of Alyea's text message correspondence, Hilt admitted that he had recently communicated with Alyea, but he maintained that the two had not seen each other recently.
"The next day, police officers discovered Alyea's car in an apartment parking lot. When they opened the trunk, they found pooled blood and bloody clothing. During processing of the car at the Johnson County Sheriff's Office crime lab, a technician found a knife under bloody clothing in the trunk. The technician also noted that the car's taillight assemblies had been loosened from their mounts, and the connecting tabs had been disconnected, disabling the taillights. Both the taillight connectors and the trunk latch had smears of blood on them. Crime scene investigators did not initially link the knife to Alyea's disappearance or death.
"The day after Alyea's vehicle surfaced, detectives conducted a search at Mattox's residence. They found a piece of charred metal pipe in a smoker grill, as well as other charred and burned items. A can of gasoline sat next to the smoker grill. In the basement, detectives opened a dishwasher and discovered a black plastic trash bag full of bloody clothing.
"The same day, Alyea's body was found. Its condition had been damaged by decomposition and insects." State v. Hilt, 299 Kan. 176, 179-181, 322 P.3d 367 (2014).

         Alyea's body had been found in Cass County, Missouri, approximately 4 miles from Mattox's father's home. An autopsy revealed a total of 20 stab wounds and several larger blunt force trauma injuries to Alyea's head and neck. Either the blunt force trauma causing a skull fracture or any of the stab wounds could have caused her death. Subsequent forensic analysis tied the DNA profiles of Mattox and Alyea to the same bloodstained clothing.

         During the investigation, police interviewed Mattox. He initially denied having any knowledge about the killing. But a few days later, Mattox made a full confession, describing the course of events in detail. According to Mattox's confession, while in the QuickTrip, he, Hilt, and Scott Calbeck had hatched a plan to rob Alyea. When Alyea and her killers left QuickTrip, Hilt was driving, Alyea was in the front seat, and Mattox and Calbeck were in the back seats. Soon after, Mattox and Calbeck attacked Alyea-they beat her with their fists, and Mattox dragged Alyea to the back seat, struck her with a pipe, and choked her. When Alyea stopped struggling, Mattox told Hilt to stop the car. They put Alyea in the trunk and kept driving. Mattox proposed disposing the car and Alyea's body in a rural area he knew.

         The group pulled over near Harrisonville, Missouri, when they heard Alyea screaming for help in the trunk. They pulled Alyea out of the trunk, and Calbeck beat her again with the pipe. Hilt stabbed Alyea twice in the abdomen with a hunting knife that he took from Mattox's residence. The three men loaded Alyea's limp body back into the trunk and later dumped it in a field.

         The group drove back to Overland Park, Kansas, to clean Alyea's car and dispose of the evidence. Mattox removed the battery from Alyea's cell phone and threw it out the car window. The group divided up cleaning tasks-Mattox was responsible to clean the car trunk, and Hilt planned to discard the clothing and the knife. The group abandoned Alyea's car in an apartment parking lot, returned to Mattox's house, and burned Alyea's purse on a grill.

         Pretrial, Mattox moved to suppress his confession, but the district court denied the motion. A jury found Mattox guilty of premeditated murder under an aiding and abetting theory, as well as aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. The district court imposed a hard 50 sentence for first-degree murder pursuant to K.S.A. 21-4635 (recodified at K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6620) without fact-finding by the jury.

         Mattox now appeals his convictions and sentence. We exercise jurisdiction pursuant to K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 22-3601(b)(3) (direct appeal to Supreme Court when life sentence imposed).

          1. Mattox was sentenced in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         Mattox first claims that his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial was violated when the district court imposed a hard 50 sentence without fact-finding by the jury. He argues his hard 50 sentence is unconstitutional because the sentencing judge found the existence of aggravating factors by a preponderance of the evidence, in violation of Alleyne, 133 S.Ct. 2151. The State concedes this point. We likewise hold that the imposition of Mattox's hard 50 sentence violated his Sixth Amendment right.

         The constitutionality of a sentencing statute is a question of law over which this court exercises unlimited review. Hilt, 299 Kan. at 202.

         "Any fact that, by law, increases the penalty for a crime is an 'element' that must be submitted to the jury and found beyond a reasonable doubt." Alleyne, 133 S.Ct. at 2155. Therefore, "any fact that increases the mandatory minimum is an 'element' that must be submitted to the jury." 133 S.Ct. at 2155.

         In Hilt the district court likewise imposed a hard 50 sentence without fact-finding by the jury. We found this sentencing scheme ran afoul of Alleyne, stating:

"Were it not for the sentencing judge's finding by a preponderance of the evidence of four aggravating factors, Hilt would not have faced a minimum sentence of 50 years rather than 25 years for Alyea's murder. Because the judge, rather than the jury, found the four aggravating factors existed, and did so on a preponderance-of-the-evidence rather than a beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard, Hilt's Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, as interpreted in Alleyne, was violated." 299 Kan. at 203.

         Furthermore, we concluded that Hilt was not one of the rare cases where a hard 50 Alleyne error can be declared harmless. 299 Kan. at 204-05 ("[W]e cannot say on the record before us that (1) proof of the aggravators was so overwhelming that their existence was certainly established, and (2) no rational factfinder would decide beyond a reasonable doubt that the mitigators advanced by Hilt outweighed the State's aggravators.").

         Hilt is determinative of this issue-the district court's imposition of a hard 50 sentence violated Mattox's right to a jury trial, and such error was not harmless. Therefore, Mattox's hard 50 life sentence is vacated and the case is remanded to district court for resentencing.

         2. The jury instructions were proper.

         Mattox raises several challenges to the jury instructions. He first contends that the district court erred by refusing to modify the aiding and abetting instruction to inform the jury that before convicting on the State's aiding and abetting theory, the jury was required to find that Mattox had the same premeditation as the principal. Second, he contends that the intent instructions were misleading and lessened the State's burden of proof for premeditated murder. Finally, he contends he was entitled to a multiple acts instruction. Considering each claim in turn, we find no error.

Our review of challenges to jury instructions follows a familiar progression:
"'(1) First, the appellate court should consider the reviewability of the issue from both jurisdiction and preservation viewpoints, exercising an unlimited standard of review; (2) next, the court should use an unlimited review to determine whether the instruction was legally appropriate; (3) then, the court should determine whether there was sufficient evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant or the requesting party, that would have supported the instruction; and (4) finally, if the district court erred, the appellate court must determine whether the error was harmless, utilizing the test and degree of certainty set forth in State v. Ward, 292 Kan. 541, 256 P.3d 801 (2011), cert. denied [ __U.S.__, ] 132 S.Ct. 1594 [182 L.Ed.2d 205] (2012)'. [Citation omitted.]
"'Generally, a defendant is entitled to instructions on the law applicable to his or her defense theory if there is sufficient evidence for a rational factfinder to find for the defendant on that theory. [Citation omitted.] And if that defendant requests an instruction at trial, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant. [Citations omitted.]'
"We examine 'jury instructions as a whole, without focusing on any single instruction, in order to determine whether they properly and fairly state the applicable law or whether it is reasonable to conclude that they could have misled the jury.' [Citation omitted.]" Hilt, 299 Kan. at 184-85.

         Count I of the indictment charged Mattox with first-degree premeditated murder. Alyea died from multiple blunt and sharp force injuries. Mattox's defense theory was that his intent was merely to rob the victim and that when they initially placed her in the trunk of the vehicle, the plan was to leave her unconscious by the side of the road. According to Mattox's confession, after the victim regained consciousness in the trunk and began screaming, Calbeck beat her with a pipe and Hilt stabbed her with a hunting knife. The State's theory of the crime was that Mattox acted as an aider and abettor during the course of events, which made him culpable for Calbeck's and Hilt's actions, as well as for Alyea's death.

         Jury instruction number 10, which was based on PIK Crim. 3d 54.05 relating to aiding and abetting, said:

"A person who, either before or during its commission, intentionally aids, abets, advises, hires, counsels, or procures another to commit a crime with intent to promote or assist in its commission is criminally responsible for the crime committed regardless of the extent of the defendant's participation, if any, in the actual commission of the crime."

          In lieu of this instruction, defense counsel submitted a proposed jury instruction that simply stated, "For Joseph Mattox to be convicted of Count I on the theory of aiding and abetting, the defendant must have had the same premeditation to commit the crime as the principal." Defense counsel generally argued that the State's proposed instruction was going to confuse the jury and then cited our decision in State v. Overstreet, 288 Kan. 1, 200 P.3d 427 (2009). The State responded with its own case-State v. Engelhardt, 280 Kan. 113, 119 P.3d 1148 (2005)-which it believed cautioned courts against modifying the aiding and abetting PIK instructions. The trial court agreed with the State that the PIK-based instruction appropriately defined aiding and abetting but told the parties that they were free to argue "that point to the jury in your closing arguments."

         During deliberations, the jury submitted a question asking the court to "add clarification" to the aiding and abetting instruction. With the jury in recess and Mattox present, the trial judge discussed the request with the parties. The State argued that the district court should simply direct the jury's attention back to instruction number 10. Mattox's counsel responded, "Judge, I agree. The question appears to ask for a clarification on the issue of aiding and abetting. I believe that the instructions were as provided, and the Court-That's what the jury will need to rely on."

         After bringing in the members of jury, the judge informed them that the "instructions are complete" and that "[t]here's really no further definition or clarification that I can present to you concerning that[, ] [s]o you'll have to accept the instructions as I've given them to you."

         On appeal, Mattox maintains that he was entitled to his version of the aiding and abetting instruction. To that end, Mattox contends that his proposed instruction was a correct statement of law and that it was factually appropriate in light of the statements he made to officers indicating that "he only intended to participate in a robbery which spiraled out of control."

         We recently addressed a similar situation arising from Hilt's trial. There, Hilt requested a supplement to the aiding and abetting instruction that informed jurors "'[m]ere association with the principals who actually commit the crime or mere presence in the vicinity of the crime is insufficient to establish guilt as an aider or abettor.'" Hilt, 299 Kan. at 183. The district court denied the request and gave PIK Crim. 3d 54.05 without the supplement. On appeal, Hilt argued-as Mattox does-that PIK Crim. 3d 54.05 left the jury with an incomplete understanding of the law defining aiding and abetting. We disagreed:

"In this case, the district judge's use of PIK Crim. 3d 54.05 on aiding and abetting-given without requested additional language about mere association or presence being insufficient to convict-was not reversible error. But inclusion of the additional language is the better practice; and, in future cases, when the additional language is requested, the judge should modify the PIK instruction." 299 Kan. 176, Syl. ¶ 1.

         We cautioned that although it was not reversible error to not provide the additional language, "the better practice is to add the requested language in cases such as this, and failure to do so may imperil convictions in future similar cases." (Emphasis added.) 299 Kan. at 185-86. Obviously, Hilt had not been decided at the time of Mattox's trial.

         Prior to Mattox's trial, however, we had decided Overstreet, 288 Kan. 1. The State had charged Overstreet with aggravated assault and attempted first-degree murder, both based on an aiding and abetting theory. The district court provided the following jury instructions based on PIK Crim. 3d 54.05 (aiding and abetting) and PIK Crim. 3d 54.06 (responsibility for crimes of another), respectively:

"'A person who, either before or during its commission, intentionally aids, abets or procures another to commit a crime with the intent to promote or assist in its commission, is criminally responsible for the crime committed regardless of the extent of the person's participation, if any, in the actual commission of the crime. [PIK Crim. 3d 54.05.]
"'A person who intentionally aids another to commit a crime is also responsible for any other crime committed in carrying out or attempting to carry out the intended crime, if the other crime was reasonably foreseeable. [PIK Crim. 3d 54.06.]'" 288 Kan. at 8.

         The prosecutor made a series of statements during closing arguments that Overstreet claimed-when taken in combination with the PIK instructions-relieved the State of its burden of proving premeditation beyond a reasonable doubt.

         Initially, we observed that we had approved each of the two instructions individually as correct statements of K.S.A. 21-3205 (providing the statutory definition of aiding and abetting). But we also noted that Engelhardt, 280 Kan. 113, held that it was error to provide both instructions when the underlying crime required a showing of specific intent. Overstreet, 288 Kan. at 10. We reasoned in Engelhardt that a foreseeability instruction would impermissibly relieve the State of the burden to prove a specific intent because the concept of foreseeability essentially converted the State's aiding and abetting theory into an uncharged and uninstructed upon theory of felony murder. See Engelhardt, 280 Kan. at 133; Overstreet, 288 Kan. at 11. We "ultimately held in Engelhardt that although it was error for the district court to give the foreseeability instruction contained in PIK Crim. 3d 54.06, the error was harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence against the defendant." Overstreet, 288 Kan. at 11 (citing Engelhardt, 280 Kan. at 133-34).

          In Overstreet, we clearly elucidated this principle:

"Our decision in Engelhardt controls our resolution in this case. As in Engelhardt, Overstreet was charged in this case with a specific-intent crime under an aiding and abetting theory. Therefore, the State was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he 'intend[ed] to promote or assist' in the commission of an attempted first-degree premeditated murder. [Citations omitted.] Engelhardt makes it clear that to be successful on this theory, the State was required to prove that the defendant shared in the specific intent of premeditation and thus promoted or assisted in the commission of the specific crime of premeditated first-degree murder.
"Despite this premeditation requirement, the district court instructed the jury in this case that '[a] person who intentionally aids another to commit a crime is also responsible for any other crime committed in carrying out or attempting to carry out the intended crime, if the other crime was reasonably foreseeable.' This foreseeability instruction indicated that the jury need not find that Overstreet possessed the specific intent of premeditation if it found that premeditated murder was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of aggravated assault. In other words, giving the aiding and abetting foreseeability instruction negated the State's burden to prove an essential element of the crime charged: premeditation. This diminished burden is precisely the type of error disproved in Engelhardt. [Citation omitted.] The district court erred when it provided the foreseeability instruction in this case." 288 Kan. at 11-12.

         Although Mattox relies on Overstreet and Engelhardt, his argument ignores a significant difference between those cases and his. The trial court in those cases provided the jury with both PIK Crim. 3d 54.05 and PIK Crim. 3d 54.06, while only PIK Crim. 3d 54.05 was provided here. Indeed, the crux of the reasoning in Overstreet and Engelhardt on these issues is that the foreseeability language in PIK Crim. 3d 54.06 confuses the jury about the level of intent a defendant must have when it is combined with an aiding and abetting instruction. See Overstreet, 288 Kan. at 11-15; Engelhardt, 280 Kan. at 132-34.

          We have articulated this distinction before. In State v. Betancourt, 299 Kan. 131, 322 P.3d 353 (2014), the defendant was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder on an aiding and abetting theory. As here, the jury in Betancourt was provided with PIK Crim. 3d 54.05 and a similar first-degree murder instruction. Betancourt argued that "these instructions were deficient because they did not inform the jury that a defendant who is guilty on an aiding and abetting theory of premeditated murder must share the principal's premeditated intent." 299 Kan. at 135. We stated:

"[Betancourt]'s case differs significantly from Overstreet and Engelhardt in that the second part of the aiding and abetting instruction-the part negating the intent portion-was not given here. Instead, in this case the jury was given Instructions 7 and 8, which explicitly required the jury to find that [Betancourt] intended to aid and abet in a killing done with premeditation. [Citation omitted.] Considering the entirety of the jury instructions, we conclude that the instructions as given accurately stated Kansas law and did not mislead or confuse the jury." Betancourt, 299 Kan. at 136.

         Likewise, the premeditated first-degree murder instruction here told jurors that the State had to prove that Mattox "intentionally killed" the victim and that "such killing was done with premeditation." Instruction 12 explained as follows:

"'Premeditation' means to have thought the matter over beforehand, in other words, to have formed the design or intent to kill before the act. Although there is no specific time period required for premeditation, the concept of premeditation requires more than the instantaneous, intentional act of taking another's life.
"'Intentionally' means conduct that is purposeful and willful and not accidental. Intentional includes the terms 'knowing, ' 'willful, ' 'purposeful, ' and 'on purpose.'"

          Our holding in Betancourt that this combination of instructions accurately states Kansas law and does not mislead or confuse the jury remains sound and squarely applicable in the instant case. We find no error in the aiding and abetting instructions as given.

         Mattox next argues that the intent instructions-particularly the "inference of intent" instruction-were misleading because they blurred the line between his general and specific intent charges, which erroneously lessened the State's burden of proof for premeditated murder. As Mattox correctly states, premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping charges are specific intent crimes, but aggravated robbery is a general intent crime. See Overstreet, 288 Kan. at 11 (specific intent required for first-degree premeditated murder); State v. Robinson, 303 Kan. 11, 254, 363 P.3d 875 (2015) (specific intent required for aggravated kidnapping), cert. denied 137 S.Ct. 164 (2016), disapproved of on other grounds by State v. Cheever, 304 Kan. 866, 375 P.3d 979 (2016); State v. Edwards, 299 Kan. 1008, 1015, 327 P.3d 469 (2014) (general intent required for aggravated robbery).

         Mattox did not object to the instructions as given, and therefore, we apply a clear error analysis. See Betancourt, 299 Kan. at 135. In such an analysis, we first apply a de novo review when determining whether the instruction was legally appropriate. If the court finds that the instruction was erroneous, "'the defendant must firmly convince the appellate court that the giving of the instruction would have made a difference in the verdict.'" State v. Cooper, 303 Kan. 764, ...

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