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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Drug cases return to local court on appeal

  • A Leavenworth man who was sentenced last year to more than nine years in prison in three drug cases will be heading back to Leavenworth County District Court after an appeals court ordered a new hearing.
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  • A Leavenworth man who was sentenced last year to more than nine years in prison in three drug cases will be heading back to Leavenworth County District Court after an appeals court ordered a new hearing.
    A hearing was held Thursday in Leavenworth County District Court regarding the appealed cases of Marcus W. Byers.
    Byers, who remains in prison for an earlier conviction, was not present. But attorneys who were involved in the three cases were present. An evidentiary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 10. Byers should be present for that hearing.
    Byers, 41, was sentenced in May 2012 to 110 months to two counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and a felony charge of possession of drug paraphernalia in one case, two counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in a second case and one charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in the third case. The crimes were reported to have occurred in 2011.
    He pleaded no contest to the charges in February 2012, but before the sentencing, he asked to withdraw his pleas.
    Byers argued he thought he would have been granted a reduction in his bond or a furlough so he could be out of the Leavenworth County Jail for about two weeks before the sentencing. He also argued he had not realized he would end up having to register as a drug offender.
    District Judge Gunnar Sundby denied a motion to withdraw the pleas.
    In a decision released July 26, the Kansas Court of Appeals remanded the case back to Leavenworth County District Court and ordered an evidentiary hearing regarding whether someone promised Byers bond modification or a furlough in exchange for his pleas "as this determination has not yet been made."
    The Court of Appeals judges did not rule in favor of Byers regarding the drug offender registration issue.
    In his appeal, Byers also raised an issue regarding the use of his criminal history to enhance the sentence. But the Court of Appeals judges indicated that the Kansas Supreme Court already has ruled on this issue.
    County Attorney Todd Thompson and Clinton Lee, who represented Byers in the cases, were in court for Thursday's hearing.
    John Bryant prosecuted the case for the Leavenworth County Attorney's Office. He now works of the Kansas Attorney General's Office. But he was in Leavenworth Thursday for a case he's prosecuting for the Attorney General's Office, and he also was present for the hearing on the Byers matter.
    Bryant may be a witness during the future evidentiary hearing.
    "It was brought to my attention that Mr. Lee may be a witness as well," Sundby said.
    Because of this, the judge said he will appoint another attorney to represent Byers.
    Page 2 of 2 - "So you'll be released as counsel at this time Mr. Lee," Sundby said.
    The judge initially suggested scheduling the evidentiary hearing for next month. But Bryant wouldn't be available, so the matter was set for Jan. 10.
    Arrangements will be made to have Byers transported to Leavenworth for the hearing.
    Byers currently is incarcerated at the Norton Correctional Facility, according to a website for the Kansas Department of Corrections.
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