Khalil-Alsalaami v. State

Decision Date14 May 2021
Docket NumberNo. 115,184,115,184
Citation486 P.3d 1216
Parties Ziad K. KHALIL-ALSALAAMI, Appellant, v. STATE of Kansas, Appellee.
CourtKansas Supreme Court

Richard Ney, of Ney, Adams & Miller, of Wichita, argued the cause, and David L. Miller, of the same firm, was with him on the briefs for appellant.

Kristafer R. Ailslieger, deputy solicitor general, argued the cause, and Bethany C. Fields, deputy county attorney, Barry K. Disney, senior deputy county attorney, Barry R. Wilkerson, county attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with him on the briefs for appellee.

The opinion of the court was delivered by Wall, J.:

A jury convicted Ziad K. Khalil-Alsalaami of two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy in violation of K.S.A. 21-3506 and acquitted him of one count of rape charged under K.S.A. 21-3502(a)(2). After exhausting his direct appeal, Khalil-Alsalaami filed a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion seeking a new trial based on allegations of ineffective assistance of both his trial and appellate counsel. The district court denied his motion, but the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the matter. We initially issued an opinion affirming the Court of Appeals' decision. However, before the mandate issued, we granted the State's motion for rehearing, and the parties reargued the matter to the court.

Khalil-Alsalaami presented substantial evidence in support of his requested relief. Yet, this evidence was by no means uncontroverted, as the State also presented testimony and exhibits in opposition to Khalil-Alsalaami's claims during the K.S.A. 60-1507 evidentiary hearing. Ultimately, the district court weighed this competing evidence and resolved conflicting testimony in favor of the State.

We have long observed:

"Where findings of fact are attacked for insufficiency of evidence or as being contrary to the evidence, the supreme court's power begins and ends with the determination whether there is any competent substantial evidence to support them, and where findings are so supported they are accepted as true and will not be disturbed on appeal, and in such a case it is of no consequence that there may have been much contradictory evidence adduced at the trial which, if believed by the trial court, would have compelled entirely different findings of fact and an entirely different judgment." Fine v. Neale Construction Co. , 186 Kan. 537, Syl. ¶ 1, 352 P.2d 404 (1960).

And, in such a case, " ‘the court of appeals may not reverse [the district court] even though convinced that had it been sitting as the trier of fact, it would have weighed the evidence differently.’ " June Medical Services L. L. C. v. Russo , 591 U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. 2103, 2121, 207 L. Ed. 2d 566 (2020) ; see Ratzlaff v. Friedeman Service Store , 195 Kan. 548, 550, 407 P.2d 513 (1965) (when reviewing for substantial competent evidence, the appellate court's duty is to ascertain whether the record contains any evidence which on any theory of credence, or want of credence, would justify the district court findings and conclusions of fact; " ‘it is of no consequence that if we had been the triers of fact we might have reached a different conclusion than the trial court respecting the question involved’ ").

In adhering to this controlling standard of review and the legal framework applied to Khalil-Alsalaami's claims, we reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and affirm the district court's denial of Khalil-Alsalaami's motion for relief under K.S.A. 60-1507.


Khalil-Alsalaami is originally from Iraq and worked there as a translator for the United States Army before immigrating to the United States in 2009. In May 2010, Khalil-Alsalaami and his roommates threw a party at their Manhattan, Kansas, home. C.J. attended the party with several of her friends. Several days later, C.J. and her mother reported to the Riley County Police Department that C.J. was sexually assaulted at the party. C.J. alleged that Khalil-Alsalaami vaginally raped her and orally and anally sodomized her. C.J. was 13 years old at the time of this incident.

Investigation and Pretrial Proceedings

The Riley County Police Department investigated the allegations, and Khalil-Alsalaami agreed to go to the police station for an interview. At the police station, Detective Ryan Runyan and Detective Sonia Gregoire interviewed Khalil-Alsalaami. Khalil-Alsalaami's primary language is Arabic, but no translator was present for the interview. Khalil-Alsalaami informed detectives he could speak, but not read, English. Detective Runyan advised Khalil-Alsalaami of his Miranda rights orally, reading from the department's waiver form. Detective Runyan explained:

"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: Okay. And in America, any time we talk to somebody, we have something called the Miranda Rights.
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: You ever talk about that when you were over in Iraq with the Army?
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: What it is, we will ask you some questions. So before I ask you any questions, you must understand what your rights are. I mean, you don't have to answer any questions if you don't want to. But this is what we call Miranda Rights.
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: I know you said you can't read English but you understand it very well. You took English in grade school and high school?
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: I guess you were employed by the Army to interpret?
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: For the soldiers?
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: All right. So what it is, is you have the right to remain silent. Which means you don't have to talk if you don't want to. Okay. That's one of your rights. And anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. So I'm going to have some questions for you. I just want you to be honest with me and just remember that when you answer the questions it can be used against you. And you have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him here present with you while you're being questioned. You know what a lawyer is?
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: What do they call a lawyer in Iraq?
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: Mohami, okay. And then you—if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer or a mohami, one will be appointed to represent you before any questions if you wish. You understand all of these rights, sir?
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: So then you can decide at any time to exercise these rights. You say, Detective Runyan, I don't want to talk anymore. You can do that at any time. It's not a big deal. And not answer any questions or make statements if you don't want to. If you don't want to answer any questions or make any statements you don't have to. What I'm looking for is cooperation. And to get your side of the story as far as what happened—
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: —with this Roger and his friends when they came over on Saturday.
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: And maybe you don't know all the details or maybe you have some information that might be helpful. But that's what I'm looking for.
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: So you understand all that?
"ZIAD KHALIL-ALSALAAMI: You want me to talk about—
"DET. RYAN RUNYAN: Would you want to answer my questions?

Following this advisement, Detective Runyan began questioning Khalil-Alsalaami about the incident. Detective Runyan did not initially disclose C.J.'s age. Instead, his questions focused on whether C.J. had consented to sex. Khalil-Alsalaami argues this method of questioning is a "minimization" technique.

Khalil-Alsalaami admitted to having consensual oral and anal sex, but not vaginal sex, with C.J. on the night of the party. The detectives then arrested Khalil-Alsalaami and charged him with two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy (related to the allegations of oral and anal sex with C.J.) and one count of rape (related to the State's allegations of vaginal penetration).

Khalil-Alsalaami was initially represented by defense attorney Stephen Freed. Before trial, the State filed a motion pursuant to Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 84 S. Ct. 1774, 12 L. Ed. 2d 908 (1964), to secure a ruling on the admissibility of Khalil-Alsalaami's confession. While the State's Jackson v. Denno motion was pending, Khalil-Alsalaami engaged new trial counsel Barry Clark and Jeremy Platt. After conducting an initial investigation, Clark and Platt decided not to contest the admissibility of Khalil-Alsalaami's confession and entered a stipulation to its voluntariness. This stipulation was memorialized in a journal entry executed by the district judge.

The Jury Trial

The case proceeded to a three-day jury trial starting on April 19, 2011. Clark served as lead defense counsel, and Platt acted as second chair. While Khalil-Alsalaami had used an interpreter at preliminary hearing, arraignment, and during the partial Jackson v. Denno hearing, he did not use one during the jury trial.

The State called the victim, C.J.; along with J.E. and R.E., who both attended the party with her. Additionally, the State called Amanda Nall, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) who examined C.J. several days after the alleged assault; Brandy Bertrand, a forensic biologist from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation who reported on the results of DNA testing; and the investigating detectives, among others. As part of its case-in-chief, the State also introduced a video recording of Khalil-Alsalaami's interview with detectives, which included his confession.

C.J. testified that she went to Khalil-Alsalaami's party on the evening of May 1, 2010, with her friend J.E., his brother R.E., and Roger Safford. C.J. testified that during the party, Khalil-Alsalaami required her to perform oral and anal sex while the two were together in his bedroom. She said Khalil-Alsalaami ejaculated...

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