State v. Logsdon, 110,415.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas
Citation304 Kan. 3,371 P.3d 836
Docket NumberNo. 110,415.,110,415.
Parties STATE of Kansas, Appellee, v. Charles C. LOGSDON, Appellant.
Decision Date01 April 2016

304 Kan. 3
371 P.3d 836

STATE of Kansas, Appellee,
Charles C. LOGSDON, Appellant.

No. 110,415.

Supreme Court of Kansas.

April 1, 2016.

Shanon S. Crane, of Hutchinson, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.

Keith E. Schroeder, district attorney, argued the cause, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, was with him on the brief for appellee.

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

304 Kan. 6

A jury convicted Charles Logsdon on seven counts stemming from the death of Jennifer Heckel: intentional first-degree murder, felony murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, criminal possession of a firearm, and aggravated intimidation of a witness. The district court imposed a life sentence with a minimum term of 50 years (hard 50 life sentence) for the intentional first-degree murder conviction. Logsdon now appeals, asking us to reverse his convictions and vacate his hard 50 life sentence.

For reasons we will more fully explain, we uphold Logsdon's convictions because his arguments on appeal are ultimately nonmeritorious. First, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and deferring to the jury's credibility conclusions—as we must do on appeal—there is sufficient evidence supporting his convictions. Second, the district court did not err in denying Logsdon's motions for a mistrial (which were based on the admission of certain hearsay evidence). The court took effective remedial action to prevent the jury from considering some hearsay. And the remaining hearsay was either not objected to or was admissible under at least one hearsay exception. None of the hearsay statements violated Logsdon's constitutional right to confront witnesses. Third, we reject Logsdon's argument regarding

371 P.3d 843

a jury instruction on aiding

304 Kan. 7

and abetting liability because, even assuming the instruction was erroneous, he invited any error by requesting it.

Although we affirm Logsdon's convictions, we must vacate Logsdon's hard 50 life sentence and remand for resentencing. As the State concedes, Logsdon's hard 50 life sentence was improperly imposed in light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013), and our application of that decision in State v. Soto, 299 Kan. 102, Syl. ¶ 9, 322 P.3d 334 (2014), and State v. Warren, 302 Kan. 601, 622–23, 356 P.3d 396 (2015).

Facts and Procedural History

Logsdon's lengthy trial involved numerous witnesses and thousands of pages of transcript. We offer a condensed version of the facts, as they were established at trial, but still must discuss the evidence in some detail because of Logsdon's sufficiency of the evidence challenge.

A. The crime and initial investigation

Trial testimony established that Heckel was shot in her home around 7:00 p.m. on June 14, 2011. Her 5–year old son, T.H., was home at the time and ran to his neighbors for help. Emergency responders found Heckel slumped on the floor in her kitchen and, after lifesaving measures were attempted, declared her dead at the scene.

At trial, T.H. testified he was sitting in his playroom watching television. During a commercial, he went to the window and saw someone come up to the house. He heard someone else in the house with his mother and heard several loud bangs, but he did not see anything because he stayed in his playroom until he heard the kitchen screen door shut. Although T.H. could not recall any additional details at trial, law enforcement officers testified that right after the shooting T.H. had told them he saw a red car pull into the driveway with possibly two people in it and he saw a man run out of the house.

A total of four shots were fired inside the Heckel home: one shot went through a food container in the kitchen, through a window,

304 Kan. 8

and outside (and was never recovered); one grazed Heckel's side and was found imbedded in a kitchen wall; one was found under her body and probably caused her chest wound ; and one was fired at the back of Heckel's head and found near her neck. Heckel's wounds were caused by medium-caliber bullets. Expert witnesses opined that the shots were probably fired from relatively close range, but no one was able to conclusively determine their sequence.

Neither the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) nor the Hutchinson Police Department found any relevant fingerprint, DNA, or trace evidence. Of note, investigators found two cigarette butts outside the house, but the cigarettes yielded no DNA match to any suspect. Nor did investigators initially discover any evidence of motive. Further, as members of the Hutchinson Police Department testified at trial, every person of interest among Heckel's family, friends, and acquaintances had an alibi. As a result, the police began to investigate whether someone other than Heckel was the intended target.

To this end, police began canvassing the streets and questioning people known to be involved in home invasions, daytime burglaries, and drugs. The first break in the case came on June 30, 2011, when Detective Dean Harcrow interviewed Billy Craig. According to Detective Harcrow's trial testimony, Craig told him he had heard “someone had been shot in the head.” This same statement was also introduced through the testimony of Lieutenant Martin Robertson, who was not present during the exchange but recounted what Craig had told Detective Harcrow. This particular statement was important to the investigation. As both Lieutenant Robertson and Detective Harcrow explained, Craig's comment told them they were on the right track because that particular detail of the shooting had not been released to the public.

Logsdon timely made a hearsay objection to both witnesses' testimony about Craig's statements. See K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 60–460 (A statement constitutes hearsay evidence if it “is made other than by a witness while testifying at the hearing [and is] offered to

371 P.3d 844

prove the truth of the matter stated....”). Hearsay evidence is generally inadmissible unless a specific exception applies or the evidence is

304 Kan. 9

otherwise excluded from this general definition. As relevant to the rulings, the State argued Craig's statements were excluded from the definition of hearsay because the State planned to have Craig, who was in custody, testify. The State pointed to K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 60–460(a), which allows admission of “[a] statement previously made by a person who is present at the hearing and available for cross-examination with respect to the statement and its subject matter.” The district court overruled Logsdon's objection.

Later in the trial, however, Craig refused to testify, leading the district court to admonish the jury to “disregard the testimony regarding the statements of Billy Craig that were specifically made during the testimony of ... Detective Dean Harcrow, regarding a meeting on June 30 with Billy Craig only.” The instruction did not mention Lieutenant Robertson's testimony about Craig's statement.

After Craig revealed information that would only have been known by someone involved in the crime or an investigator, police began interviewing people with whom Craig was associated. Eventually law enforcement concluded that warring groups of drug users, who often robbed each other and did not report the robberies to the police, were linked to Heckel's death.

B. Testimony from witnesses associated with Craig or Logsdon

Most of the evidence admitted at trial against Logsdon came from various members of Craig's circle. There were credibility concerns. Many, if not most, of these witnesses received some sort of benefit in exchange for their testimony against Logsdon. Almost all of them had unrelated criminal cases pending or were in jail on unrelated criminal charges. Several admitted they were reluctant to testify, and some witnesses were held in contempt of court before eventually agreeing to take the stand. A handful of the other witnesses called to testify against Logsdon were alleged, by other witnesses, to have somehow been involved in Heckel's death. Indeed, at the time of Logsdon's trial, Craig was charged with the first-degree murder of Heckel and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. See generally State v. Craig, No. 110,466, 2014 WL 2871395 (Kan.App.) (unpublished opinion), rev. denied 300 Kan. 1105 (2014).

304 Kan. 10

Logsdon called these witnesses' credibility into question at trial. We will discuss these credibility issues more thoroughly later in our opinion, but we mention them here because they provide context for understanding the State's case against Logsdon.

1. Conspiracy to rob Kayla Rodriguez

Once investigators began to focus on Craig's circle of friends, they learned of a conspiracy to rob someone other than Heckel—Kayla Rodriguez, a woman involved in the drug trade who sold drugs to Craig and...

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