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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Baskas acquitted of assault charge

  • A man who was charged with pointing a gun at a Leavenworth police officer has been acquitted of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, according to a prosecution official.
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  • A man who was charged with pointing a gun at a Leavenworth police officer has been acquitted of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, according to a prosecution official.
    John James Baskas was found guilty of some of the additional charges against him but found not guilty of others.
    The verdict was reached around 1 a.m. Thursday in Leavenworth County District Court, according to County Attorney Todd Thompson.
    Baskas was found guilty of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, a drug paraphernalia charge and violating drug tax stamp law. He was found not guilty of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, cultivation of marijuana and another drug paraphernalia charge.
    The charges stemmed from a June 21, 2011, incident. Members of the Leavenworth Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team were serving a search warrant at the residence where Baskas lives with his parents.
    Baskas was shot by one of the SWAT members who said the defendant was pointing a gun at him.
    Baskas, who survived the injuries, did not deny having the gun. But he argued during the trial that he was trying to defend his home after awakening and hearing a commotion in the house. He testified he saw a dark figure but was blinded by a flashlight and didn’t realize it was a police officer.
    The verdict came at the conclusion of a three-day trial.
    “We were all thrilled,” defense attorney Edward Gillette said of the verdict.
    The defense team also included attorneys Michael Mogenson and Kyle Branson.
    Gillette said jurors wanted to speak with the defense, prosecutors and judge after the verdict was announced.
    Gillette said he believes jurors felt his client was defending himself the morning of the incident. Gillette believes the one of the biggest issues for jurors concerned how much Baskas’ parents had been involved when it came to the other charges.
    Baskas’ parents had previously pleaded to drug charges related to items found during the police search of their residence.
    “The evidence and investigation pointed to the parents,” Gillette said.
    Despite the verdict, Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens believes officers acted appropriately June 21, 2011, given the circumstances.
    “I feel very confident that we acted appropriately,” he said.
    County Attorney Todd Thompson said he feels police officers did everything they were supposed to.
    “I’m very proud of all the officers,” he said.
    Thompson was one of the prosecutors who worked on the case.
    Assistant County Attorneys Michael Jones and Adam Zentner also were involved in the prosecution of the case.
    Sentencing for Baskas is scheduled for March 22. Gillette said his client remains free on bond as he awaits sentencing.
    Page 2 of 2 - Gillette believes the case is what is referred to as a “border box” case, which means the judge can consider probation if there’s a treatment program available for Baskas.
    Gillette said he hasn’t talked with Baskas about appealing the convictions on the three charges.
    “That’s certainly something that he and I will discuss,” he said.

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