Decision: State v. Garcia

May 22nd. The Kansas Supreme Court has issued its opinion in the case of State v. Garcia (No. 99,997) a sentencing appeal. In a unanimous decision, written by Justice Lawton Nuss, the Court affirmed Ray Garcia’s felony-murder sentence and the District Court’s finding that the crime was sexually motivated (thus placing him on the Sex Offenders Register).

In 1995 Garcia raped a 73 year old Wichita woman. The crime went unsolved for years. In 2001 the Kansas Legislature extended the Statute of Limitations for rape (which had previously been 5 years). Subsequently a “cold case” investigation identified Garcia as the culprit and he was tried and convicted of rape and felony murder. Garcia appealed and in 2007 the Kansas Supreme Court vacated his conviction for rape as violating the Ex Post Facto clause of the United States Constitution. [Since the Legislature extended the Statute of Limitations after it had expired in Garcia’s case]. The Court remanded the case to District Court for re-sentencing. At re-sentencing the District Court noted in response to questions by the Prosecutor that Garcia remained a Sex Offender since the felony-murder was found to be sexually motivated.

Garcia appealed this, arguing that this was a new finding on remand and that since the felony-murder conviction was untouched by the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision, it could not be reopened for further findings. Garcia sought to have the ‘sexually motivated’ component of that sentence (and thus the Sex Offenders register requirement) removed.

The Court rejected this argument. In examining the transcript of the original sentencing and the journal it found that the trial court had made the finding at the original trial that the felony-murder was sexually motivated. (Which stands to reason, since without the Statute of Limitations issue, Garcia would still have a rape conviction). It also informed him at the time of Sex Offender registration being required as a result of the felony-murder conviction. Therefore, on remand, the District Court was not reopening the felony-murder sentence, and thus it stands as before. Garcia did not object at the time or during his original appeal to this finding and therefore cannot raise a challenge now over the finding that the felony-murder was sexually motivated.

Garcia will be eligible for parole in 2020.

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