State v. Charles, No. 105,148.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation304 Kan. 158,372 P.3d 1109
Decision Date22 April 2016
Docket NumberNo. 105,148.
Parties STATE of Kansas, Appellee, v. Leonard D. CHARLES, Sr., Appellant.

304 Kan. 158
372 P.3d 1109

STATE of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Leonard D. CHARLES, Sr., Appellant.

No. 105,148.

Supreme Court of Kansas.

April 22, 2016.


Randall L. Hodgkinson, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.

Matt J. Maloney, assistant district attorney, argued the cause, and Nola Tedesco Foulston, former district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellee.

372 P.3d 1113

PER CURIAM:

304 Kan. 159

This is the direct appeal of defendant Leonard D. Charles, Sr., from his jury convictions and sentence for reckless aggravated battery, felony criminal damage to property, and criminal threat based on a series of incidents that occurred on Christmas 2009. The district judge sentenced Charles to 34 months' imprisonment and required him to register as a violent offender under the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA).

On appeal to our Court of Appeals, Charles raised six issues challenging his convictions and the registration requirement. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Charles raises the same six issues on petition for review to this court. For the reasons detailed in the discussion section below, we affirm his convictions and vacate his registration requirement.

Factual and Procedural Background

Late in the evening on Christmas 2009, Charles drove his 1995 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 SUV into a Family Video parking lot in Wichita. Charles was on his way to Kansas City to see his mother because he had heard from his brother that she was scheduled to have open heart surgery soon. Charles would eventually testify that he had become lost and had mistaken the Family Video for a gas station.

Autumn McDowell had just finished returning a video at the store when her car became stuck in snow near the parking lot exit. As Charles pulled into the parking lot, he saw McDowell in her vehicle. McDowell and Charles would later provide different accounts of the nature of their subsequent interaction.

304 Kan. 160

According to McDowell, when Charles pulled up, he asked if she needed assistance. McDowell told him that she was going to try to rock her car back and forth to free it. During this brief conversation, a driver in a car that had been behind McDowell began to honk, seemingly unaware that McDowell's car was stuck. Charles got out of his SUV, approached the third vehicle, and started yelling at the driver. The third vehicle then left. Charles reentered his SUV and positioned it behind McDowell's car. At that point, McDowell was able to rock her car free, and she drove out of the parking lot. When McDowell looked into her rearview mirror, she saw that Charles was following her in his SUV. McDowell sped up to 60 miles per hour “to get away from him,” before she turned into a residential neighborhood.

Once in the neighborhood, McDowell drove evasively, “going from street to street, in and out, just trying to lose [him].” At one point, McDowell turned off her headlights to avoid Charles' detection, but she quickly turned them back on because she could not see. Minutes after the pursuit began, Charles rear-ended McDowell's car, sending both vehicles over a curb. McDowell was “really scared,” “felt threatened,” and “was in a panic ‘cause I didn't know what he wanted with me, why he was following me.” After the collision, McDowell believed Charles' SUV was stuck on the curb. She then drove home and called 911. McDowell suffered whiplash in the collision, and her car sustained nearly $4,000 in damage.

According to Charles, he entered the Family Video parking lot, saw McDowell in her car, lowered his window, and asked her if she could give him directions. McDowell agreed to do so. Charles then got out of his SUV and showed her a piece of paper that had written directions on it. McDowell apparently told Charles how he could return to his route and get to Kansas City. At that point, McDowell told Charles that her car was stuck, and he agreed to help her by pushing her car with his SUV. Charles also said that the two talked about exchanging phone numbers and that McDowell directed him to follow her to her parents' house in a nearby neighborhood.

Charles pulled up behind McDowell and used his SUV to push her car free of the snow. He then stepped out of his SUV to inspect

304 Kan. 161

it for damage and watched as McDowell “mashed the gas” and sped away. Charles got back into his vehicle and drove in the direction he saw McDowell drive away, and he eventually followed her into a residential neighborhood.

372 P.3d 1114

Charles said that he did not see McDowell's car when he entered the neighborhood. He did, however, see a car with its lights off, which appeared to be parking. Figuring the parking car contained McDowell, Charles sped up to see better. When his SUV's headlights illuminated the parking car's interior, he saw McDowell, “and she had this surprised look on her face like, [']Oh, my God, he found me.[']”

According to Charles, McDowell then turned her headlights back on and “sped off again.” Charles followed. As the pursuit continued, Charles began to question whether McDowell did in fact want him to follow her. “The wheels start[ed] clicking,” he said, and, “I began to think like is she—is she running?”

Nevertheless, Charles said he wanted to make contact with McDowell to determine whether she did not want him to follow her. Shortly thereafter, McDowell's vehicle began “fishtailing and sliding”; Charles slammed on his brakes, causing his SUV to skid before colliding with McDowell's vehicle. Charles characterized the accident as unavoidable.

After the collision, Charles returned to Family Video, where Rachel Northrup and Kailey Westemeir were working inside. Both Northrup and Westemeir testified at Charles' trial.

When Charles entered Family Video, Northrup was helping customers from behind the counter while Westemeir checked inventory at the back of the store. Northrup did not see Charles enter the store, but she noticed him when he approached the counter. Charles was “pacing and raising his voice” and generally looked frustrated and upset. Charles continued to get louder, saying there was something wrong with his SUV. He then said that, if he could not get to Kansas City to see his mother before she died, he was going to come back to the store and kill someone.

Charles then came behind the counter and approached Northrup face-to-face, making similar statements about killing someone if he was unable to get to Kansas City before his mother died. At some

304 Kan. 162

point, Charles “took a big swipe” and knocked over a computer monitor that had been attached to the counter. He also knocked over a gift card display and a cup of pens and pencils that were on the counter, and he knocked several videos off the store's shelves.

Westemeir heard the commotion in the front of the store and came toward the counter from the back. Charles approached her and began yelling about “some girl who messed up his car.” Westemeir eventually called 911. While she was on the phone with the 911 operator, Charles told her that if he could not get to Kansas City to see his dying mother, “he was gonna come back and kill us.”

When police arrived at Family Video, they arrested Charles.

As a result of all of these events, the State charged Charles with three counts: intentional aggravated battery, alleging Charles “unlawfully and intentionally cause[d] bodily harm to another person ... with a deadly weapon, to-wit: 1995 Nissan Pathfinder”; criminal damage of McDowell's car; and criminal threat toward Westemeir.

At trial, in addition to giving an intentional aggravated battery instruction telling the jury it could convict if Charles caused bodily harm to McDowell with his SUV, the district judge informed the jury of the circumstances under which it could convict Charles of reckless aggravated battery as a lesser included offense. Charles did not object to the giving of the lesser included offense instruction, which read:

“If you do not agree that the defendant is guilty of aggravated battery intentional, you should then consider the lesser included offense of aggravated battery reckless.

“To establish this charge, each of the following claims must be proved:

“1. That the defendant recklessly caused bodily harm to another person with a deadly weapon, to-wit: a car, or in any manner whereby great bodily harm, disfigurement or death can be inflicted; and

“2. That this act occurred on or about the 25th day of December, 2009, in Sedgwick County, Kansas.” (Emphasis added.)
372 P.3d 1115

During the first portion of the State's closing argument, the prosecutor prefaced many of his statements with the phrase “I think” or similar, personalized wording:

• Discussing Charles' statement that he was going to kill someone, “I don't believe that there's anything that you can
304 Kan. 163
...

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29 practice notes
  • State v. Butler, No. 115,604
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 27, 2018
    ...clearly part of the res gestae, so intertwined with the botched robbery that they are part of the robbery itself. See State v. Charles , 304 Kan. 158, 175-76, 372 P.3d 1109 (2016) (defendant's 416 P.3d 139comments toward a store employee before he made a criminal threat toward another store......
  • State v. Thomas, No. 109,951
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 13, 2018
    ...and the court makes a finding on the record that a deadly weapon was used in the commission of such person felony." In State v. Charles , 304 Kan. 158, 176-77, 372 P.3d 1109 (2016), abrogated by State v. Huey , 306 Kan. 1005, 399 P.3d 211 (2017), the majority noted:"If KORA registration doe......
  • State v. Marinelli, No. 111,227
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 13, 2018
    ...of KORA without violating the Ex Post Facto Clause.), overruled by Petersen-Beard , 304 Kan. 192, 377 P.3d 1127 ; State v. Charles , 304 Kan. 158, 372 P.3d 1109 (2016) (Registration requirement for violent offenders under the 2009 version of KORA qualified as punishment under Due Process Cl......
  • State v. Petersen-Beard, No. 108,061.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 22, 2016
    ...Kan. 181, 371 P.3d 886 (this day decided); and State v. Redmond, 304 Kan. 283, 371 P.3d 900 (this day decided); see also State v. Charles, 304 Kan. 158, 372 P.3d 1109, 2016 WL 1612843 (2016) ( No. 105,148, this day decided) (following Doe, Buser, Redmond ; imposition of registration require......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • State v. Butler, No. 115,604
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 27, 2018
    ...clearly part of the res gestae, so intertwined with the botched robbery that they are part of the robbery itself. See State v. Charles , 304 Kan. 158, 175-76, 372 P.3d 1109 (2016) (defendant's 416 P.3d 139comments toward a store employee before he made a criminal threat toward another store......
  • State v. Thomas, No. 109,951
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 13, 2018
    ...and the court makes a finding on the record that a deadly weapon was used in the commission of such person felony." In State v. Charles , 304 Kan. 158, 176-77, 372 P.3d 1109 (2016), abrogated by State v. Huey , 306 Kan. 1005, 399 P.3d 211 (2017), the majority noted:"If KORA registration doe......
  • State v. Marinelli, No. 111,227
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 13, 2018
    ...of KORA without violating the Ex Post Facto Clause.), overruled by Petersen-Beard , 304 Kan. 192, 377 P.3d 1127 ; State v. Charles , 304 Kan. 158, 372 P.3d 1109 (2016) (Registration requirement for violent offenders under the 2009 version of KORA qualified as punishment under Due Process Cl......
  • State v. Petersen-Beard, No. 108,061.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 22, 2016
    ...Kan. 181, 371 P.3d 886 (this day decided); and State v. Redmond, 304 Kan. 283, 371 P.3d 900 (this day decided); see also State v. Charles, 304 Kan. 158, 372 P.3d 1109, 2016 WL 1612843 (2016) ( No. 105,148, this day decided) (following Doe, Buser, Redmond ; imposition of registration require......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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