A Leavenworth man who had been charged with attempted murder has been convicted of a less serious charge of aggravated battery.
The verdict was reached Wednesday afternoon in the case of Richard T. Bennett.
Bennett was found guilty of the aggravated battery of his ex-girlfriend Lachelle M. Kemp and making a criminal threat against her, according to County Attorney Todd Thompson, one of the prosecutors in the case.
The charges stemmed from a June 18 incident during which Kemp was stabbed outside of a Leavenworth convenience store. Kemp was about seven months pregnant at the time with Bennett's daughter.
Bennett had been charged attempted first-degree murder of Kemp and their unborn child. But jurors were given the option of considering several less serious alternative charges and what are known as lesser included offenses.
Kemp had reported that Bennett attacked her with a knife and said he was going to kill her and their baby.
Bennett testified during the trial that Kemp had been the aggressor, and he was defending himself.
Their child has since been born.
Kemp died in an accident Oct. 16. Her death was not related to injuries she suffered during the June 18 incident.
Testimony she gave during an Aug. 13 preliminary hearing was read during the trial.
Sentencing for Bennett is scheduled for next month in Leavenworth County District Court. Thompson said Bennett could qualify for probation under the state's sentencing guidelines.
Bennett has been in the custody of the Leavenworth County Jail during the trial.
Following the verdict, District Judge Gunnar Sundby indicated he would re-examine the bond that had been set in the case, according to Thompson.
The trial began Monday. Jurors began their deliberations Wednesday morning after attorneys made their closing arguments.
Arguing for the prosecution, Assistant County Attorney Christopher Scott said Kemp's testimony was consistent with the testimony of other witnesses. Scott said Bennett's "accounts are inconsistent with the evidence."
An emergency room doctor testified during the trial that most of the stab wounds Kemp suffered June 18 were superficial.
Scott said during his closing argument that the case was not about the severity of the injuries.
"It's all about the defendant's intent," he said.
During his closing argument, defense attorney Clinton Lee said that in order to convict his client, jurors had to believe Bennett turned into a knife-wielding homicidal maniac at the flip of a switch.
"That's what you have to believe to convict him," Lee said.
Lee attempted to raise questions about the testimony of Kemp and another witness.
"It really gets down to — do you believe Mr. Bennett's version or do you believe Miss Kemp's version," Lee said.
Page 2 of 2 - He said the prosecution had provided no explanation of a motive for Bennett committing the crimes for which he was charged.
"I'm not saying he's the best boyfriend in the world," Lee said of his client.
But Lee said being a bad boyfriend doesn't equate to being someone who would try to commit murder.
Lee also said jurors could not discount the severity of Kemp's injuries. He said Kemp's most serious stab wound required only one stitch. He questioned whether this was consistent with an injury caused by a man wanting to kill his ex-girlfriend.
"Does that make sense, or does that raise reasonable doubt?" Lee said.
He argued the wound was more consistent with Bennett's version of what happened.
Scott was able to split his closing argument, giving part of it before Lee's comments and then speaking after the defense attorney.
During the second portion of his closing argument, Scott said the beyond a reasonable doubt standard does not mean beyond all doubt. He said there are things that are possible but not reasonable.
"The only person giving the defendant's version of events is him," Scott said.
He said the prosecution doesn't have to prove motive. But he suggested there was "some turbulence going on behind the scenes" in terms of the relationship between Kemp and Bennett.
Scott said Kemp's injuries luckily weren't that bad because she defended herself.