a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence of an
alternative means crime, sufficient evidence must support
each alternative means charged to ensure that the verdict is
unanimous as to guilt.
reviewing for sufficiency of the evidence, an appellate court
does not reweigh the evidence, resolve conflicts in the
evidence, or pass on the credibility of witnesses.
party must make a specific and timely objection at trial to
preserve evidentiary issues for appeal.
from Wyandotte District Court; Delia M. York, judge.
Jeffrey C. Leiker, of Leiker Law Office, P.A., of Kansas
City, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.
G. Obermeier, assistant district attorney, argued the cause,
and Mark A. Dupree Sr., district attorney, Jennifer S. Tatum,
assistant district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney
general, were on the brief for appellee.
Rucker appeals his conviction for first-degree murder. We
and Procedural Background
October 22, 1997, Celestino Zavala Ruiz went to V.E.'s
house in Kansas City, Kansas. The two were dating and Zavala
wanted to ask V.E. out for coffee. When Zavala arrived, the
door to the house was unlocked. He went inside and
immediately noticed that the television was missing. Zavala
found V.E.'s body in the bedroom and immediately called
officers arrived at V.E.'s home, they found her body
lying on the bed. V.E. was unclothed from the waist down. Her
bra had blood stains on it and appeared to have been torn in
several places. V.E.'s hands and feet were bent behind
her and tied together with rope. There was a rope wrapped
around her neck, pulled back, and tied around her hands.
V.E.'s throat had been cut and her head showed signs of
blunt force trauma. Investigators observed that it looked
like the house had been "ransacked." Drawers had
been pulled out and scattered around the floor, and it
appeared someone had dumped the contents out of a purse.
Officers found a hammer in the kitchen closet.
coroner conducted an autopsy and used a sexual assault kit to
collect DNA evidence from V.E.'s body and clothes. The
coroner observed that V.E. had two different "crush
lacerations" on her head, a skull fracture, a 6-inch cut
along her throat, a stabbing injury that went through the
neck, abrasions on her knees, and wounds on her hands. The
coroner concluded that V.E. died as a consequence of blunt
trauma to the head and a stab wound to the neck and that her
death was a homicide.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) began testing the
physical evidence from V.E.'s body and the crime scene in
2001. Preliminary testing revealed semen on the vaginal swab
and on several items-a quilt, a pair of pantyhose, a jacket,
and a pair of pants. There was also blood on the head of the
hammer and DNA evidence on some cigarette butts found in the
house. Further testing revealed Zavala's DNA on two of
the cigarette butts. There was a different and unknown male
DNA profile discovered in the semen on the vaginal swab and
on one of the cigarette butts. A second unknown male DNA
profile was found in the semen on the jacket and the semen on
the quilt. There was a third unknown male DNA profile found
in the semen on the pants and the semen on the pantyhose. And
there was a fourth unknown male DNA profile found on another
one of the cigarette butts.
entered the DNA profiles of the four unknown males into
CODIS, a database that collects and compiles DNA evidence. In
2006, the DNA profile found in the semen on the vaginal swab
and on one of the cigarette butts matched with a DNA profile
belonging to Torry Johnson. In 2010, CODIS matched the DNA
profile found in the semen on the jacket and the quilt with
March 2015, investigators interviewed Johnson. Johnson told
them that on the day of V.E.'s death, he, Rucker, and a
man named Jesus had been at V.E.'s house. Johnson
admitted that they had planned to rob V.E. and that they had
tied her up, Rucker had raped her, and they had ...