A Leavenworth man whose 2009 conviction for criminal sodomy was overturned has pleaded no contest to an indecent liberties charge.
Lester E. Lawson entered the plea Wednesday in Leavenworth County District Court. The case had been remanded to District Court after his conviction was reversed in April by the Kansas Supreme Court.
Following his plea Wednesday to one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, Lawson was sentenced to the time he'd already served in prison as his case was being appealed.
Lawson, 44, was convicted in May 2009 of two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy of a child less than 14 years of age. He was accused of molesting a boy between August 2006 and September 2007 in Leavenworth. The boy was 11 and 12 years of age at the time.
He received a life sentence in 2009 as a result of what is known as Jessica's Law.
The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction this year in a unanimous decision. The court's decision focused on statements Lawson made to a police officer without his attorney being present.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the statements Lawson made in 2008 should have been ruled inadmissible because the defendant already had invoked his right for assistance of counsel. A district judge had allowed testimony about the statements during the 2009 trial.
Lawson entered the plea to an amended charge Wednesday as part of an agreement worked out by the prosecution and defense.
By pleading no contest to the indecent liberties charge, Lawson did not admit guilty but signaled he did not wish to offer a defense.
The plea came during the arraignment phase of the case. The defendant then agreed to proceed immediately to the sentencing phase. An updated pre-sentencing investigation report had been prepared ahead of Wednesday's hearing.
Assistant County Attorney Cheryl Marquardt, who prosecuted the case, said she believed the standard sentence under state sentencing guidelines was appropriate with Lawson receiving credit for time already served. The standard sentence was 59 months, or almost five years.
"It appears though that you've served out 59 months or more," District Judge Gunnar Sundby said.
In addition to the time Lawson was in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections following the earlier conviction, he spent more than a year in jail as he awaited his trial and initial sentencing, according to Marquardt.
Even though Lawson already has served the 59 months, Sundby said he believed the defendant still would have to be surrendered to the Kansas Department of Corrections before being released unless KDOC officials say he can be released directly from the Leavenworth County Jail.
Sundby said Lawson will be subject to lifetime post release supervision and a lifetime offender registration requirement.
Page 2 of 2 - Defense attorney Ann Colgan said Lawson eventually may move to Illinois if officials in that state agree to take over his post release supervision.