|
|
|
|
The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Defendant gets new trial in drug case

  • A man who once escaped from Leavenworth County Jail was back in court Wednesday.
    • email print
  • A man who once escaped from Leavenworth County Jail was back in court Wednesday.
    Raheem K. Armstead, 31, appeared in Leavenworth County District Court because a 2012 conviction for possession of methamphetamine, obstruction of an official duty, and driving without a valid license has been overturned by the Kansas Court of Appeals.
    The 2012 conviction came several months before Armstead escaped from jail custody.
    On Dec. 29, 2012, Armstead ran from the jail grounds as he and other trusties were escorted outside to dispose of trash. He was apprehended a few days later at a residence in Leavenworth. He later pleaded guilty to aggravated escape from custody and was sentenced to 19 months in prison for that charge.
    A fence has since been erected around the area where Armstead made his escape.
    Armstead's conviction in the 2012 drug case stemmed from a Dec. 27, 2011, incident in which Armstead allegedly abandoned a car and ran from Leavenworth police.
    Inside the vehicle, police reportedly found methamphetamine, according to court documents.
    Armstead was sentenced to nearly three years in prison after he was convicted in the case.
    Judges from the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed the conviction because they found the district court judge made a mistake in allowing the prosecution to introduce evidence of prior convictions.
    "We conclude the district court erred in admitting evidence of Armstead's prior convictions to impeach his credibility and, as a result, we reverse the convictions and remand the case for a new trial," Appeals Court Judge Michael Buster wrote in the March 21 decision.
    Armstead testified during the 2012 trial, and the prosecutor asked the judge to allow evidence of prior convictions for crimes that showed an element of deceit.
    The judge allowed evidence of two prior convictions, according to the Court of Appeals decision.
    Kansas law allows the prosecution to present evidence of prior convictions if a defendant already has introduced evidence to support his credibility as a witness. But, the appellate judges found that a defendant doesn't place his credibility at issue "by merely taking the witness stand," Buser wrote.
    "A criminal defendant must have a right to deny the charges against him without fearing that such testimony will authorize the state to parade his history of past misconduct before the jury," Buser wrote.
    When Armstead appeared Wednesday in court, District Judge Gunnar Sundby appointed attorney Michael Willcott to represent the defendant. Willcott previously represented Armstead in the drug case.
    A pretrial conference was scheduled for June 18. A date for a new trial likely will be chosen at that time.
    Armstead remains in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections for other convictions, including the escape charge.
      • calendar