BY THE COURT
conviction of even the gravest offense can be based entirely
on circumstantial evidence. In a prosecution for premeditated
first-degree murder, the premeditation element is most often
proved by circumstantial evidence. A jury is permitted to
infer premeditation from the established circumstances of the
case, provided that the inference is a reasonable one.
Convictions based entirely upon circumstantial evidence can
present a special challenge to appellate courts because the
circumstances in question must themselves be proved and
cannot be inferred or presumed from other circumstances.
Where the State relies upon inference stacking,
i.e., where the State asks the jury to make a
presumption based upon other presumptions, it has not carried
its burden to present sufficient evidence to sustain a
Impermissible inference stacking is not present where
different circumstances are used to support separate
inferences or where multiple pieces of circumstantial
evidence separately support a single inference.
4. In a
criminal prosecution, prosecutors are allowed to craft
arguments that include reasonable inferences to be drawn from
circumstantial evidence, so long as the circumstances have
themselves been proved, rather than having been presumed from
trial court violates a criminal defendant9;s fundamental
right to a fair trial if the court excludes relevant,
admissible, and noncumulative evidence that is an integral
part of the theory of defense. But the right to present a
defense is subject to the established rules of evidence and
proponent of evidence is required to lay a foundation for its
admissibility. The foundation for admitting a writing
requires that it meet the authentication requirements of
from Sedgwick District Court; Bruce C. Brown, judge.
Corrine E. Gunning, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office,
argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.
J. Gillett, assistant district attorney, argued the cause,
and Marc Bennett, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt,
attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellee.
D. Banks, Sr., directly appeals his jury trial conviction for
the premeditated first-degree murder of Daniel Flores. He
contends that the State failed to present sufficient evidence
to support the conviction, that the prosecutor committed
reversible error during closing argument, and that the
district court violated Banks9; right to present a defense
by excluding certain photographs. We affirm the conviction.
and Procedural Overview
victim, Flores, worked at Steckline Communications
(Steckline), which operated a radio station in Wichita, where
Banks9; former girlfriend, Lisa Bryce, was the office and
human resources manager. Flores9; deadly encounter with
Banks appears to have been an ill-fated happenstance.
and Bryce had dated sporadically for a little over a year
before Banks moved in with Bryce in December 2013. Banks9;
suspicions of infidelity soured the relationship, and by
February 2014, Bryce told Banks to move out. Nevertheless,
Banks continued to text or call Bryce, sometimes several
times a day. He made multiple contacts with Bryce on Sunday,
February 9, 2014, the date of the murder.
point on February 9, 2014, Banks hatched a plan to break into
the Steckline building and "mess with" Bryce9;s
computer. Banks shared the idea with his friend, Dartonja
Looney, who advised Banks to disturb multiple offices inside
the building to avoid the appearance that Bryce was the
targeted victim. About 8 p.m. that evening, Banks was driven
to a parking lot directly across the street from the
Steckline building by Camishia Ford, another woman he was
dating at the time, on the pretense that he was going to
retrieve his stolen wallet.
cameras revealed that Banks sat in Ford9;s vehicle for 14
minutes before exiting and crossing the street to the
Steckline building. He returned to Ford9;s car 41 minutes
later. Ford said that Banks was breathing heavily when he
returned to the car carrying an object wrapped in a jacket or
hoodie, saying they needed to leave. Banks related that he
had been in the basement of the Steckline building and had
heard two men fighting upstairs. He said that he had bumped
into a fire extinguisher which he said was the object in his
possession, albeit Ford could not verify the identity of the
next morning, Monday, February 10, 2014, about 7 a.m., the
first employee to arrive at the station, Blake Cripps,
discovered that Bryce9;s office and the office of station
owner, Greg Steckline, had been disturbed. Cripps texted a
picture of the damage to Bryce, who said she would arrive
soon to report the incident.
approximately 7:45 a.m., Flores9; immediate supervisor,
Phillip Padilla, arrived and checked the basement area.
Padilla had difficulty opening the door because it was
blocked by Flores9; body. Upon discovering the body,
Padilla called 911 at 7:58 a.m.
arrival, the investigators found Flores lying flat on his
face, with his arms underneath his body, just inside the
basement door. There was blood spatter on several walls, with
a large area of blood on the wall close to the floor, near
Flores9; head. Five of Flores9; teeth were found
nearby, two of which were under the body. Flores was
pronounced dead at the scene.
also discovered that one of the fire extinguishers was
missing, a wall had damage that appeared consistent with the
bottom of a fire extinguisher, and a service tag from a fire
extinguisher was on the floor near Flores. The missing fire
extinguisher was never found.
found a critical clue on the basement walls. Someone had
written violent, racist, and misogynistic messages directed
towards Bryce and had drawn a stick person in a noose with
the words "Hang nigga!" Bryce told police that the
writing did not look like Banks' handwriting but that the
content of the messages, the poor ...