BY THE COURT
appellate court reviews a trial court's decision on a
motion to change venue under K.S.A. 22-2616(1) for an abuse
abuse of discretion can occur in three waysâwhen the trial
court makes an error of law; bases its decision on facts not
supported by the evidence; or makes an arbitrary, fanciful,
or unreasonable decision.
Factors to be considered when determining whether a venue
change is necessary under K.S.A. 22-2616(1) include: (a) the
degree of publicity circulated throughout the community; (b)
the degree the publicity circulated throughout areas to which
venue could be changed; (c) the length of time from the
dissemination of the publicity to the trial date; (d) the
care exercised and ease encountered in jury selection; (e)
the familiarity with the publicity and its resultant effects
upon prospective jurors or trial jurors; (f) challenges
exercised by the defendant in jury selection, both peremptory
and for cause; (g) the connection of government officials
with the release of the publicity; (h) the severity of the
offense charged; and (i) the particular size of the area from
which the prospective jurors are drawn.
Error in the admission of evidence that does not implicate a
defendant's constitutional rights is harmless if there is
no reasonable probability the error affected the trial's
outcome in light of the entire record.
from Barton District Court; Ron Svaty, judge. Affirmed.
Michelle A. Davis, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office,
argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.
Kristafer R. Ailslieger, deputy solicitor general, argued the
cause, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, was with him on
the brief for appellee.
convicted Jeffrey Chapman of first-degree murder. In this
direct appeal from his conviction, he argues the trial court
erred by denying repeated efforts to obtain a change of venue
due to pretrial publicity and by permitting the State to
cross-examine him about a text message he claims was hearsay
and unduly prejudicial. Finding no reversible error, we
and Procedural Background
November 12, 2011, hunters driving along a rural road in
Barton County discovered Damon Galyardt's body lying in a
ditch with a bullet wound to the chest. The police
investigation led to Chapman, who knew Galyardt through a
mutual friend. Chapman did not deny killing Galyardt.
testified at trial that he went to Galyardt's residence
the night before the body was discovered. Chapman claimed he
shot Galyardt in self-defense when Galyardt threatened to
kill him with a knife. Chapman testified he then ran from the
house and fled in a waiting car being driven by a friend. He
did not call the police or seek medical help for Galyardt,
but he did ask someone to monitor a police/emergency scanner
to find out if anyone had alerted the police.
learning nothing about emergency services being dispatched,
Chapman returned to Galyardt's house and found him dead.
Chapman said he left again before returning in a borrowed car
to retrieve the body and dump it in the country. Driving
back, Chapman threw blood-stained items from the car. He told
a friend he had hit a dog and asked her to help clean blood
from the car's back seat, purportedly from the dog.
State's evidence included testimony that Chapman had
previously threatened to kill Galyardt several times in the
presence of multiple people, had told Galyardt's
girlfriend he was going to kill Galyardt and dump his body in
the country, and had told Galyardt in a phone conversation
that was overhead by another that he was going to kill him.
by Chapman's self-defense theory, the jury convicted him
of first-degree premeditated murder. The district court
imposed a hard 25 life sentence. Our jurisdiction is proper.
See K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 22-3601(b)(3) (life sentence imposed).
argues the district court erred denying his requests to
change venue based on pretrial publicity about his
background, a defense motion to remove or cover his
provocative tattoo, and his family. Chapman contends this
publicity created an atmosphere in Barton County that
jeopardized his right to fair trial. We disagree.
filed a pretrial motion for a change of venue relying solely
on K.S.A. 22-2616(1), which provides an avenue for a change
of venue if the district court is satisfied there exists
"so great a prejudice against the defendant that he
cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial in that
county." Chapman argued without a supporting affidavit
that "almost, if not every, person interviewed by law
enforcement . . . stated that they knew . . . Chapman and/or
the Chapman family personally or by reputation in the
community, " and "[i]ndividuals informed law
enforcement that Mr. Galyardt's death was all over
Facebook . . . ."
included 11 news articles about the crime and one website
post about his family's connection to crime within the
community. Of those articles, one detailed preliminary
hearing testimony, six briefly reported Chapman's arrest
and a trial postponement, and four detailed the murder
investigation but did not mention Chapman. At a hearing on
the motion, Chapman presented no other evidence and the
district court denied the venue change.
around this time, Chapman filed a motion to permit him to
cover or have removed a prominent tattoo on his neck that
read "REDRUM" ("murder" spelled
backwards). This motion sparked additional publicity, which
Chapman characterized as an "out-of-control media
storm" that "totally frustrated" the purpose
of the motion. He noted the Daily Mail from the United
Kingdom, the Huffington Post, and the New York Daily News had
published articles about the tattoo. Chapman claimed more
than 800 residents had made comments on the ...