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State v. Owens

Supreme Court of Kansas

November 1, 2019

State of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Ken'Dum Dan'Sha Owens, Appellant.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. When a criminal defendant asserts a violation of his or her right to a speedy trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and § 10 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights, Kansas courts weigh four nonexclusive factors: the length of delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant's assertion of the right, and prejudice to the defendant. The court balances the factors, weighing the conduct of both prosecution and accused. Because the test requires a balancing, none of these factors is a necessary or sufficient condition for finding a violation.

         2. The right to a speedy trial guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and § 10 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights applies in juvenile offender proceedings under the Revised Kansas Juvenile Justice Code, K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 38-2301 et seq.

         3. The length-of-delay factor is a triggering mechanism in a speedy trial analysis. Until there is some delay that is presumptively prejudicial, there is no necessity for inquiry into the other factors applied in a speedy trial analysis.

         4. Even if a defendant pushes for delay in order to gain some advantage, the delay itself can be excessive and presumptively prejudicial. Complexity is generally the determinative factor separating a delay that is presumptively prejudicial from one that is not.

         5. Under the facts of this case, the defendant failed to establish a violation of the constitutional right to a speedy trial.

          Review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in an unpublished opinion filed September 15, 2017. Appeal from Sedgwick District Court; William S. Woolley, judge.

          Clayton J. Perkins, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.

          Matt J. Maloney, assistant district attorney, argued the cause, and Marc Bennett, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellee.

          OPINION

          Luckert, J.

         Ken'Dum Dan'Sha Owens appeals a district court order rejecting his argument that a 19-month delay between his arrest and trial violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and § 10 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. In part, Owens argues a Court of Appeals panel erred in holding that the six months Owens spent in juvenile detention should not be counted in determining the length of the delay. See State v. Owens, No. 115, 441, 2017 WL 4082317, at *4 (Kan. App. 2017) (unpublished opinion). He also argues the panel erred in weighing the factors used by courts when analyzing a constitutional speedy trial claim.

         We agree Owens' six-month period of juvenile detention should be included in a calculation of how long it took to get to trial. But Owens has not established a violation of his constitutional right to a speedy trial, even considering the full 19-month delay rather than the 13 months considered by the panel. We affirm the district court and the Court of Appeals. See Owens, 2017 WL 4082317, at *1

         Facts and Procedural Background

         In the late evening hours of February 16, 2012, two men approached Nathan Davis after he exited his vehicle in the parking lot of his apartment complex. One of the men- later identified as Owens-pointed a gun at Davis and demanded his car keys. Davis handed over his keys, and the two men got into Davis' vehicle and drove away. Davis immediately called 911 and told a dispatcher his car had been stolen at gunpoint. He described the man holding the gun as a black male, 20 to 22 years old, about 6 feet tall with a stocky build, and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, red or black ball cap, and blue jeans.

         A nearby law enforcement officer, Brent Johnson, heard the information relayed by dispatch and saw a vehicle matching the description of Davis' car stopped in the middle of the street a few blocks from Davis' apartment. Officer Johnson activated his patrol car's sirens and emergency lights. The man seated in the driver's seat of Davis' vehicle exited and ran away. Officer Johnson chased the man on foot through the surrounding residential area but lost sight of him a few minutes into the pursuit. Officer Johnson described the suspect as a black male wearing blue jeans, white tennis shoes, a red baseball cap, and a black jacket.

         Officer Johnson maintained a perimeter around the area where he believed the suspect was likely hiding while waiting for backup officers to arrive. A K-9 officer soon arrived and began searching the area with his police dog. The officers found a black male-later identified as Owens-wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, white tennis shoes, and brightly colored pajama pants hiding behind a tree in the back yard of a nearby residence. The officers arrested Owens and discovered a red and black baseball cap in the same yard. The officers also located a silver handgun in the yard of another nearby residence. But they did not find any blue jeans.

         The officers brought Davis to the location where they held Owens. Davis identified Owens as the man who pointed the gun at him and stole his car. Officers found a cell phone in Davis' car, and they later identified it as belonging to Owens.

         The State originally alleged Owens committed juvenile offenses; he was 17 at the time. After about six months, the State dismissed the juvenile case and filed a criminal information, charging Owens with aggravated robbery, criminal use of a weapon, and criminal deprivation of property. After the defense made 10 requests for continuance, Owens filed a pro se motion for new counsel. In part, he complained his attorney had been seeking continuances without his consent and without ensuring that Owens was present at continuance hearings. But Owens withdrew his request for new counsel when told his case would be given a "hard jury trial setting." The trial began just more than 19 months after Owens' arrest.

         At trial, Officer Johnson identified Owens as the man he chased and officers later arrested. Officer Johnson testified Owens was wearing blue jeans when he began chasing him but was wearing brightly colored pajama pants when he was apprehended. A post-arrest photo of Owens was admitted into evidence showing the pajama pants and other clothing he was wearing at the time of his arrest. Davis identified the man in the photograph as the person who stole his car at gunpoint but noted the difference in pants. Davis also identified the gun the officers discovered as the one Owens had used. Owens took the stand and claimed his phone had been stolen while he was playing basketball near where he was arrested. He denied being involved in the aggravated robbery of Davis.

         The jury convicted Owens as charged. He appealed his convictions and sentence, raising five issues. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding no reversible error. See Owens, 2017 WL 4082317, at *1.

         Owens timely petitioned for our review. We granted review only as to Owens' claim that the delay between his arrest and trial violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The State filed a conditional cross-petition for review, arguing in part that the panel erred in one aspect of its speedy trial analysis-specifically, in finding the length of the delay presumptively prejudicial. We granted only that portion of the State's request for review.

          This court's jurisdiction is proper. See K.S.A. 20-3018(b) (petition for review of Court of Appeals decision); see also Supreme Court Rule 8.03(b) and (c) (2019 Kan. S.Ct. R. 53) (petition for review ...


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