State v. Cobb, 123

CourtCourt of Appeals of Kansas
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
PartiesState of Kansas, Appellee, v. Taimak Lee Cobb, Appellant.
Decision Date28 January 2022
Docket Number123,381

State of Kansas, Appellee,

Taimak Lee Cobb, Appellant.

No. 123, 381

Court of Appeals of Kansas

January 28, 2022


Appeal from Leavenworth District Court; Gerald R. Kuckelman, judge

Rick Kittel, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, for appellant.

Todd Thompson, county attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, for appellee.

Before Powell, P.J., Atcheson, J., and Richard B. Walker, S.J.



Taimak Lee Cobb was convicted by a jury of felony interference with law enforcement for actions he took while being arrested by Leavenworth Police Department officers on April 23, 2019. Cobb has appealed, asserting the State provided insufficient evidence to convict him of interference with law enforcement and insufficient evidence to classify his interference charge as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Cobb further asserts that the district court erred in determining his criminal history score. He seeks reversal of his interference conviction and discharge from further prosecution on the matter. After careful review, we find sufficient evidence existed to convict Cobb of


felony interference with law enforcement and the district court did not err in establishing his criminal history. Thus, we affirm.


Officer Jasmin Crowder of the Leavenworth Police Department was on duty April 23, 2019, when the department received multiple calls reporting that a woman was pushed out of a moving vehicle. Crowder arrived at the scene and found Ashley Kearney, who was bleeding from her head and had multiple injuries. Kearney told the officer she had gone on a date with Cobb on Sunday, April 21 but that Cobb refused to take her home and held her against her will. Kearney said she tried to leave Cobb's house, but he "found her and told her to get in [his] car." Kearney said she refused, but Cobb "drug her into the car" and began threatening her life. Kearney said she knew Cobb owned a gun and she thought he would kill her, so she jumped out of the car.

After talking with Kearney, Officer Crowder and additional officers went to Cobb's residence in Leavenworth to try to contact him. Officers knocked on Cobb's front door and announced they were with the Leavenworth Police Department. Officer Benjamin Heath testified that officers made initial contact with Cobb through a window, but when Sergeant Ted Glass asked Cobb to go to the front door to speak with the officers about what happened that evening, Cobb refused and told Sergeant Glass to get a search warrant. Officer Crowder then returned to her patrol car to obtain a search warrant, and the remaining officers set up a perimeter around the house.

Officer Heath was stationed at the back of the house. When Cobb exited the back of the house, Heath drew his weapon, announced he was with the Leavenworth Police Department and instructed Cobb to get down. Cobb did not stop and ran to the front of the house. Officer Heath yelled to alert the other officers that Cobb was running to the front and followed Cobb around the side of the house into the front yard.


Sergeant Glass and Officer Sarah Moreno were at the front of the house and detained Cobb after he entered the front yard. Sergeant Glass and Officer Moreno both had their weapons drawn and Sergeant Glass instructed Cobb to get down. Cobb complied, getting onto the ground, but asked the officers what was happening. Sergeant Glass handcuffed Cobb; then he, Officer Moreno, and Officer Linda Whitelaw escorted Cobb to the front porch.

Sergeant Glass asked Cobb what happened with Kearney earlier that evening. Cobb said he did not know what happened and that Kearney was "drunk and jumped out the car." Sergeant Glass began to read Cobb his Miranda rights, but Cobb interrupted and told the officers to "take [him] in." Sergeant Glass then told Cobb he was under arrest and Cobb asked, "Under arrest for what?" Sergeant Glass and Officers Moreno and Whitelaw began to escort Cobb from the porch to a patrol car in front of the house.

While Cobb remained handcuffed outside the patrol car, Officer Moreno, Sergeant Glass, and Officer Whitelaw searched Cobb before placing him into the car. Officer Whitelaw searched Cobb's right hand, which was holding a set of keys, and instructed Cobb to give her the keys. He refused. A small struggle ensued, and Officer Moreno stepped in and put Cobb's wrist in a "wrist lock" to force him to drop the keys. Officer Moreno testified the keys were a concern because Cobb could use them to harm an officer or escape. Cobb said he could not drop the keys because of how Officer Moreno was twisting his hand. The keys eventually dropped to the ground. Officer Moreno testified she maintained the wrist lock after the keys dropped because Cobb was still "tensing . . . all of his muscles in his arm" and being combative toward her and Officer Whitelaw. Testimony indicated that Cobb tried to remove Officer Moreno's hand from his with his left hand. Cobb then asked why the officers were still "twisting [his] hand"; Officer Heath responded, saying it was because Cobb was not complying. Cobb continued to complain about his hand as the officers completed their search of his person.


The officers then asked Cobb to get in the patrol car and to stop resisting. Sergeant Glass testified that "muscling and force" had to be used to get Cobb into the patrol car.

Cobb was charged with felony criminal threat and misdemeanor domestic battery against Kearney and felony interference with law enforcement involving Officer Moreno. At the jury trial, Cobb was convicted of felony interference with law enforcement. However, the jury found him not guilty of domestic battery and could not reach a unanimous verdict as to his criminal threat charge. The district court sentenced Cobb to a prison term of 14 months and one year of postrelease supervision. Cobb timely appeals, arguing there was insufficient evidence for his interference conviction, his interference conviction was improperly classified as a felony, and his criminal history score was incorrect.


Sufficiency of the evidence of interference with law enforcement

On appeal, Cobb first argues that the State failed to prove three required elements of his interference with law enforcement charge-specifically, he alleges the State failed to show (1) that Officer Moreno was engaged in the official duty of arresting Cobb, (2) that Cobb knowingly obstructed Officer Moreno in discharging that duty, and (3) that Cobb substantially hindered or increased the burden of Officer Moreno in performing that duty. The State asserts that it provided sufficient evidence to prove each element under Kansas caselaw.

When a criminal defendant challenges the sufficiency of evidence, we review the entire record in a light most favorable to the State and ask whether we are convinced a rational fact-finder could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In doing so, we cannot reweigh evidence, resolve evidentiary conflicts, or make witness


credibility determinations. State v. Brown, 305 Kan. 674, 689, 387 P.3d 835 (2017). Circumstantial evidence and proper logical inferences drawn from such evidence can be sufficient to support convictions for even the most serious crimes. State v. Chandler, 307 Kan. 657, 669, 414 P.3d 713 (2018).

Cobb was charged with interference with law enforcement under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5904(a)(3), which provides that interference with law enforcement is "knowingly obstructing, resisting, or opposing any person authorized by law to serve process in the service or execution or in the attempt to serve or execute any writ, warrant, process or order of a court, or in the discharge of any official duty." The jury instruction on interference provided to the jury read:

"To establish this charge, each of the following claims must be proved:
"1. Sarah Moreno was discharging an official duty, namely placing a suspect under arrest.
"2. The defendant knowingly obstructed, resisted, or opposed Sarah Moreno in discharging that official duty.
"3. The act of the defendant substantially hindered or increased the burden of the officer in the performance of the officer's official duty.
"4. At the time the defendant knew or should have known that Sarah Moreno was a law enforcement officer.
"5. This act occurred on or about the 23rd day of April, 2019, in Leavenworth County, Kansas."

Cobb argues that the State failed to sufficiently prove elements 1, 2, and 3. He contends that Officer Moreno was not the officer who placed him under arrest, and therefore he could not have knowingly obstructed her or increased her burden in performing this duty. Cobb further asserts that any action that may have obstructed Officer Moreno occurred after he was already under arrest, and thus the evidence cannot satisfy elements 2 and 3. In response, the State contends that Kansas law considers


Officer Moreno to be involved in executing the arrest, and that Cobb's actions of fleeing, refusing to drop his keys, and grabbing Officer Moreno all qualify as obstructing his arrest.

Cobb contends that Sergeant Glass was the one who arrested him when he handcuffed Cobb in the front yard, and that Officer Moreno was only involved after the arrest was complete. But, as the State accurately notes, all actions that occur while arresting a suspect can be viewed as one continuous incident. Simply because Officer Moreno was not the officer to either announce the arrest or handcuff Cobb does not mean she played no role in executing his arrest. She clearly assisted Sergeant Glass in initially detaining Cobb when Cobb ran from the back of his house to the...

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