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State v. Darrah

Supreme Court of Kansas

June 21, 2019

State of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Samuel Darrah, Appellant.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. Generally, it is within the sentencing court's sound discretion to determine whether a sentence should run consecutive to, or concurrent with, another sentence.

         2. Judicial discretion is abused if judicial action: (1) is arbitrary, fanciful, or unreasonable, i.e., if no reasonable person would have taken the view adopted by the trial court; (2) is based on an error of law, i.e., if the discretion is guided by an erroneous legal conclusion; or (3) is based on an error of fact, i.e., if substantial competent evidence does not support a factual finding on which a prerequisite conclusion of law or the exercise of discretion is based.

         3. Under the facts of this case, a reasonable person could have concluded consecutive sentences were proportionate to the harm and culpability associated with the defendant's convictions under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6819(b).

          Appeal from McPherson District Court; John B. Klenda, judge.

          Michelle A. Davis, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, was on the brief for appellant.

          Steven J. Obermeier, assistant solicitor general, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were on the brief for appellee.

          OPINION

          NUSS, C.J.

         In this multiconviction sentencing case, Samuel Darrah claims the district court abused its discretion in ordering his 100-month sentence for attempted aggravated kidnapping be consecutive to, instead of concurrent with, his hard 25 life sentence for felony murder. In support, Darrah argues that he did not personally kidnap or fatally stab the victim. He further claims the two other individuals involved in the crimes played greater roles than his. But given Darrah's leadership in the planning, coordinating, and carrying out of these serious crimes, we conclude the court did not abuse its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6819(b). So we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         The essential facts come from a preliminary hearing. Witnesses included Darrah's alleged coconspirators in James Croft's murder: Clinton Bascue and Darrah's girlfriend, Kamra Farrell. Darrah's close friend, Christa Martin, and Dan Kelly-Darrah's drug dealer and fellow band member-also testified.

         Darrah, Farrell, and Bascue lived and did methamphetamines together in the summer of 2014. One day Kelly, their usual dealer, gave Darrah $3, 200 to buy a supply of drugs. Darrah gave the money to Croft-also known as "Frog"-to exchange for drugs. But Croft never provided them. So Darrah told Kelly he did not have the drugs because Frog had robbed him. Kelly became upset and told Darrah to fix it.

         By that November, Darrah still had not paid the money back or obtained the drugs for Kelly. Nevertheless, Darrah went with Farrell and Bascue to Kelly's house in Wichita for more drugs. Darrah told Kelly he was going to make it right by killing Croft. But Kelly did not care anymore, telling Darrah to just drop it because killing Croft would not get his money back. Darrah continued to say he would take care of it, however, which Kelly took to mean that Darrah would kill Croft. After Farrell and Darrah left Kelly's house, she and Darrah continued to discuss finding Croft and killing him.

         A few days later Darrah came to his friend Christa Martin's home in the early morning with Farrell and Bascue. They all went into her garage to do drugs and talk. There, Darrah told Martin he had been robbed of $3, 200 by an individual known as "Frog." Farrell said she hoped they could find Frog and that he could lead her to John Stark ...


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