Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the trial court’s judgment that contained Defendant’s first-degree murder conviction and affirmed the remainder of the judgment, holding that errors made by the trial court affected the propriety of Defendant’s murder conviction and mandated reversal of this conviction. Defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree possession of a controlled instance, third-degree possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance not in its original container, holding (1) the trial court erred by allowing certain testimony into evidence; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in the handling of the characterization of missing evidence in this case; (3) the trial court did not abused its discretion when it restricted the testimony of Defendant’s false confession expert witness; (4) the trial court erred when it refused to consider certain evidence in determining whether to suppress Defendant’s confession; (5) the trial court erred when it prevented Defendant from testifying about certain out of court statements; and (6) as to all of Defendant’s conviction excluding his first-degree murder conviction, the trial court’s errors were harmless, but as to the murder conviction, they were not harmless. View "Tigue v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sentencing Defendant to twenty-five years for first-degree robbery, reckless homicide, and tampering with evidence, holding that there was no error in Defendant’s sentencing proceedings. Defendant was initially convicted for several convictions, including first-degree assault. Following the guilt phase of trial, Defendant waived jury sentencing and entered into a plea agreement as to sentencing. The trial court sentenced Defendant to twenty-five years in accordance with the agreement. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the first-degree assault conviction. On remand, the trial court again sentenced Defendant to twenty-five years. The Supreme Court affirmed the new sentence, holding (1) by entering a plea agreement, Defendant waived his right to jury sentencing; (2) the plea agreement constituted a contract between Defendant and the Commonwealth, but there were no ambiguities; and (3) the reversal of the assault conviction affected neither Defendant’s total sentence nor his parole eligibility. View "Hammond v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of first-degree sodomy, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, and being a persistent felony offender in the first degree, holding that there was no prejudicial error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held that the trial court (1) did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress the handgun or the victim’s testimony; (2) did not err by applying the protection of the Rape Shield Law to exclude evidence that the victim had previously engaged in prostitution; (3) did not err by allowing evidence that the victim was seventeen at the time the crime was committed; (4) did not err by ruling that the admission of the victim’s age at the time of the offense did not open the door to evidence of the victim’s prior prostitution; (5) erred by refusing to allow Defendant to stipulate that he was a convicted felon, but the error was harmless; and (6) did not err by failing to sever Defendant’s possession of a handgun by a convicted felon charge for a separate trial. View "Ward v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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In this appeal from the decision of the court of appeals reversing Defendant’s conviction the Supreme Court exercised its discretion under Ky. R. Civ. P. 76.12(8)(a) and ordered the Commonwealth’s brief before this Court stricken and this appeal dismissed, holding that the Commonwealth failed to comply with section 76.12(4)(c)(iv) and (v). Defendant was found guilty of second-degree cruelty to animals. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court erred when it failed to grant Defendant’s motion for directed verdict. The Commonwealth filed a petition for rehearing, which the court of appeals denied. The Commonwealth then requested discretionary review from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted discretionary review, and the parties filed briefs. The Supreme Court struck the Commonwealth’s brief from the record and dismissed its appeal, holding (1) because the Commonwealth failed to provide any support for its factual assertions in both its statement of the case and argument sections of its brief, it failed to meet the substantial requirement of pinpoint citations to the record specific in section 76.12; and (2) the Commonwealth did not make a good faith effort to comply with the requirements of sections 76.12(4)(c)(iv) and (v). View "Commonwealth v. Roth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of various crimes for his role as a complicitor in a home invasion, holding that there was no merit to the arguments Defendant raised in this appeal. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court correctly denied Defendant’s motion for a directed verdict; (2) the conviction of the principal actor to a lesser offense based on a plea agreement does not preclude the prosecutor from pursuing a greater offense against the complicitor at trial; (3) the trial court did not err in allowing certain testimony; (4) the admission of evidence of Defendant’s purported prior bad acts did not amount to reversible error; (5) the trial court did not err in admitting evidence of cell phone use between Defendant and the principal actor; (6) no reversible error occurred from the trial court’s exclusion from evidence of a photograph showing Defendant in the hospital four days after the home invasion; and (7) the trial court did not err when it did not poll the jury after the foreperson reported an apparent mistake regarding Defendant’s recommended sentence. View "Probus v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of murder and two counts of tampering with physical evidence, holding that no reversible error occurred in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motions for directed verdict on the charges of tampering with physical evidence; (2) no reversible error occurred from the trial court’s jury instructions on protection of another; and (3) the trial court did not err when it allowed the Commonwealth to introduce several photographs of the victim’s body. View "Clark v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s convictions and their corresponding sentences, holding that Appellant’s claims of trial error did not warrant reversal of his convictions. A jury convicted Appellant of seventeen counts, including six counts of first-degree sexual abuse. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) did not abuse its discretion by failing to sever the counts of the indictments; (2) did not err in allowing evidence of other crimes, wrongs or acts; (3) erred by allowing pornographic images into evidence without the victim’s identification, but the error was harmless; (4) did not abuse its discretion in disallowing cross-examination regarding the pornographic evidence; (5) did not abuse its discretion in allowing expert testimony regarding anal sodomy; (5) did not abuse its discretion in allowing the complaining witnesses to be referred to as victims; and (6) did not abuse its discretion by denying Appellant’s motion for mistrial. View "Whaley v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s post-conviction motion requesting that the trial court declare him to be intellectually disabled, which would preclude the imposition of the death penalty, holding that Ky. Rev. Stat. 532.130(2), a statute with an outdated test for ascertaining intellectual disability, is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendant was sentenced to death for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a teenage girl. Eventually, Defendant filed a Ky. R. Civ. P. 60.02 and 60.03 motion alleging that he is intellectually disabled. The trial court denied the motion without conducting a hearing. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court to conduct a hearing consistent with this opinion, holding that section 532.130(2) does not go far enough in recognizing that, in addition to ascertaining intellectual disability using a bright-line test to determine death-penalty-disqualifying intellectual disability, prevailing medical standards should always take precedence in a court’s determination. View "Woodall v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court ordering that the results of blood alcohol tests obtained by the police be suppressed, holding that no statutory violation occurred in this case. After Defendant was arrested, the arresting officer read the pertinent portion of the statutory implied consent warning to Defendant and asked him to submit to an intoxilyzer test. Defendant agreed to do so, and the result of the test was a .266 blood alcohol level. The district court denied Defendant’s motions to suppress his .266 intoxilyzer result and to dismiss his third offense DUI charge. The circuit court reversed, determining that Defendant had been denied his statutory right to obtain an independent blood test and that his due process right had been violated since the results of the independent test may have provided exculpatory evidence. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because Defendant failed to argue that any additional assistance by the officer could have resulted in Defendant obtaining a blood test, no statutory violation occurred; and (2) Defendant received due process. View "Commonwealth v. Riker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of first-degree robbery, kidnapping, third-degree burglary, and of being a first-degree persistent felony offender and sentence of fifty years’ imprisonment, holding that none of Defendant’s claims on appeal had merit. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding Defendant’s eyewitness expert testimony; (2) the trial court did not err in failing to prohibit law enforcement officers from presenting expert testimony regarding boot prints and infrared cameras; (3) the photo pack shown to the victim was not unduly suggestive; and (4) there was no error, let alone cumulative error warranting reversal. View "Welch v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law