State v. Williams, No. 108,586.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas
Writing for the CourtThe opinion of the court was delivered by JOHNSON
Citation299 Kan. 1039,329 P.3d 420
Decision Date03 July 2014
Docket NumberNo. 108,586.
PartiesSTATE of Kansas, Appellee, v. Kiara M. WILLIAMS, Appellant.

299 Kan. 1039
329 P.3d 420

STATE of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Kiara M. WILLIAMS, Appellant.

No. 108,586.

Supreme Court of Kansas.

July 3, 2014.


[329 P.3d 422]



Syllabus by the Court

1. Under current caselaw, a trial court should not use a jury instruction that tells the jury not to consider sympathy toward either party except under very unusual circumstances.

2. Where a defendant's theory of defense to an aiding and abetting prosecution is that the defendant was merely present in the vicinity of the crime scene or simply associated with the principal actors, the better practice is for the trial court to modify PIK Crim.3d 54.05 to include the language from the official comment, to-wit: Mere association with the principals who actually commit the crime or mere presence in the vicinity of the crime is insufficient to establish guilt as an aider and abettor.

3. The merits of a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel ordinarily are not addressed for the first time on direct appeal.

4. An argument by defense counsel that the defendant's behavior may have been morally or ethically wrong but that the defendant's acts were not legally a crime is not a guilt-based strategy that overrides the defendant's not guilty plea and that warrants a consideration of the defense counsel's alleged ineffectiveness on direct appeal.

5. The doctrine of cumulative error does not apply where the reviewing court has not found the existence of more than one trial error.


Stephen J. House, of Wichita, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.

Lesley A. Isherwood, assistant district attorney, argued the cause, and Marc Bennett, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with her on the brief for appellee.


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

Kiara M. Williams directly appeals her convictions for felony murder, aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault. The charges arose out of an incident in which Williams accompanied Kevin Brown, Quartez Brown, and Jaleesa Bonner to the apartment of Otis Bolden, where Kevin and Quartez entered the apartment, assaulted Ashley Green with a handgun, and fatally shot Bolden. Williams and Bonner directed the Browns to Bolden's apartment and waited in the car to whisk them away after the shooting. Williams contends: (1) The district court erred in providing a no-sympathy jury instruction; (2) the district court erred in refusing to supplement the pattern jury instruction on aiding and abetting; (3) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance; and (4) cumulative error denied her a fair trial. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.

Factual and Procedural Overview

The events leading to this criminal prosecution began to unfold in the early morning hours of April 26, 2010, when Williams and Bonner, together with their friend, Rika Evans, left a local club and gathered at Bolden's apartment, along with Reader Watley. After Bonner accompanied Bolden into his bedroom, she interpreted a comment he made as indicating that he had participated with a group of men who had raped her some 2 years earlier. That prompted Bonner to indicate that she wanted to leave the apartment.

Bolden drove the three women—Bonner, Williams, and Evans—to the home of Bonner and Evans on Glendale Street, albeit Williams would return to Bolden's apartment to stay the night. Enroute back to his apartment, Bolden picked up Ashley Green. Bolden and Green spent the night in his bedroom, while Williams and Watley spent the night on the couch. There was conflicting testimony as to whether there was any sexual

[329 P.3d 423]

activity involving Williams. Watley drove Williams home the next morning.

That next morning at the Glendale house, Bonner told her boyfriend, Kevin, about Bolden's involvement with her prior rape. Additionally, according to Evans and Bonner, Williams told Kevin that Watley and Bolden had sexually assaulted her the night before. Kevin then called his cousin, Quartez, who came to the Glendale house where the group discussed a course of action. There was conflicting testimony as to the group's discussions, with variations of the plan being to rob Bolden, to rough-up Bolden, to talk to him, or for Kevin to simply “take care of it.” What is undisputed is that the Brown cousins, Kevin and Quartez, and two of the women, Bonner and Williams, left the Glendale house in an automobile, enroute to Bolden's apartment. Apparently, Kevin did not want the women to go, but they insisted on going. Along the way, they stopped at the house of Cody Baker, also known as “Drop,” ostensibly to pick up firearms. The Brown cousins had never been to Bolden's apartment, so the women directed them to the apartment complex and then to Bolden's particular apartment.

At the complex, Kevin and Quartez directed the women to stay in the car, and the men entered Bolden's apartment. They first encountered Green in the living room and, at gunpoint, directed her to lie on the ground and asked for Bolden's location. The cousins proceeded to the bedroom indicated by Green, and she heard gunshots, together with the inquiry, [W]hy did you rape my home girl?” Green then heard a window shatter and saw one of the assailants exit the apartment through the living room. Apparently, Bolden jumped through a bedroom window and attempted to get away, although he would be discovered later on the sidewalk at the complex and would subsequently die from gunshot wounds.

When Bonner and Williams saw Bolden running around the apartment building, they jumped into the front seat of their vehicle, with Bonner driving. After picking up the Brown cousins, Bonner stopped the vehicle briefly at Drop's house before returning to the Glendale house.

At various times thereafter, Williams told law enforcement officers different versions of what happened, minimizing her involvement, knowledge, and culpability in the incident. Ultimately, the State would charge Williams with first-degree murder or, in the alternative, felony murder, along with aggravated burglary and aggravated assault. The case proceeded to jury trial, where Williams would testify in her own behalf, relating that she simply left the Glendale house in the automobile with the other three because she needed to pick up her daughter and she thought they were going to sell marijuana rather than head to Bolden's house. Nevertheless, the jury convicted Williams of felony murder, aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault.

Of the other three participants, Bonner entered a plea, was sentenced, and has not appealed. Kevin and Quartez Brown went to trial, were convicted, and have appeals pending before this court which were heard on the same docket with Williams' case. However, the three pending appeals raise completely different issues so that cross-referencing among them will not significantly shorten our task.

No–Sympathy Jury Instruction

At the State's request and over Williams' objection, the district court included a jury instruction (hereafter referred to as the “no-sympathy instruction”) that was patterned after the instruction formerly set forth in PIK Crim.3d 51.07: “You must consider this case without favoritism or sympathy for or against either party. Neither sympathy nor prejudice should influence you.” Subsequently, the PIK committee deleted the no-sympathy instruction because it was disapproved for general use. The trial court acknowledged the PIK committee's disapproval but explained its ruling as follows:

“I rarely give this instruction but I think this is one that it is appropriate. Just because a witness may cry on the witness stand, I don't think it's sufficient in and of itself. But ... in addition to her crying a number of times on the witness stand, she has frequently been very emotional in front of the jury throughout the trial. It's

[329 P.3d 424]

all—it's on a daily basis and and it's a number of times each day that I see her breaking down in the courtroom. So I think that it's appropriate for the jury to understand this. And so I think this is a unique case and based upon the very factual specific need for it, I think [the no-sympathy instruction] should be included in this packet.”

On appeal, Williams labels the no-sympathy instruction as “an objectionable instruction,” declares that giving the instruction over the defense's objection was “not a small error,” asserts that the State asked for the instruction to preclude the jury's determination of her credibility, and summarily concludes that the giving of the no-sympathy instruction “denied her a fair trial.” The State counters that “emotions ran high” during Williams' entire trial, which is a circumstance that cannot be fully appreciated from a cold record, and that such unusual circumstances warranted the instruction or, at least, rendered any error harmless.

Standard of Review

“For jury instruction issues, the progression of analysis and corresponding standards of review on appeal are: (1) First, the appellate court should consider the reviewability of the issue from both jurisdiction and preservation viewpoints, exercising an unlimited standard of review; (2) next, the court should use an unlimited review to determine whether the instruction was legally appropriate; (3) then, the court should determine whether there was sufficient evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant or the requesting party, that would have supported the instruction; and (4) finally, if the district court erred, the appellate court must determine whether the error was harmless, utilizing the test and degree of certainty set forth in State v. Ward, 292 Kan. 541, 256 P.3d 801 (2011), cert. denied [––– U.S. ––––,] 132 S.Ct. 1594 [182 L.Ed.2d 205] (2012).” State v. Plummer, 295 Kan. 156, Syl. ¶ 1, 283 P.3d 202 (2012).

Analysis

Williams objected to the giving of the no-sympathy instruction and the district court's comments on the record indicate that it understood the grounds for that objection. See K.S.A. 22–3414(3) (A party...

To continue reading

Request your trial
24 practice notes
  • State v. Coones, 107,180.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • December 12, 2014
    ...of counsel claims are not reviewed until the district court has had an opportunity to conduct an evidentiary hearing. State v. Williams, 299 Kan. 1039, 1048, 329 P.3d 420 (2014). But in this case, the record quickly dispels the argument.At trial, Kalb elicited testimony from one of the lead......
  • State v. Coones, No. 107,180.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • December 12, 2014
    ...of counsel claims are not reviewed until the district court has had an opportunity to conduct an evidentiary hearing. State v. Williams, 299 Kan. 1039, 1048, 329 P.3d 420 (2014). But in this case, the record quickly dispels the argument. At trial, Kalb elicited testimony from one of the lea......
  • State v. Johnson, No. 111,375
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • August 5, 2016
    ...of review When considering the cumulative effect of errors, the reviewing court has unlimited review. State v. Williams , 299 Kan. 1039, 1050, 329 P.3d 420 (2014).304 Kan. 956 Discussion The test for cumulative error is “ ‘ “ ‘whether the totality of circumstances substantially prejudiced t......
  • State v. Wimbley, 122,812
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • August 20, 2021
    ...See, e.g., Carter , 311 Kan. at 792-93, 466 P.3d 1180 ; State v. Potts , 304 Kan. 687, 703-04, 374 P.3d 639 (2016) ; State v. Williams , 299 Kan. 1039, 1046-47, 329 P.3d 420 (2014) ; State v. Littlejohn , 298 Kan. 632, 650, 316 P.3d 136 (2014).In Potts , 304 Kan. 687, 374 P.3d 639, we consi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • State v. Coones, 107,180.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • December 12, 2014
    ...of counsel claims are not reviewed until the district court has had an opportunity to conduct an evidentiary hearing. State v. Williams, 299 Kan. 1039, 1048, 329 P.3d 420 (2014). But in this case, the record quickly dispels the argument.At trial, Kalb elicited testimony from one of the lead......
  • State v. Coones, No. 107,180.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • December 12, 2014
    ...of counsel claims are not reviewed until the district court has had an opportunity to conduct an evidentiary hearing. State v. Williams, 299 Kan. 1039, 1048, 329 P.3d 420 (2014). But in this case, the record quickly dispels the argument. At trial, Kalb elicited testimony from one of the lea......
  • State v. Johnson, No. 111,375
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • August 5, 2016
    ...of review When considering the cumulative effect of errors, the reviewing court has unlimited review. State v. Williams , 299 Kan. 1039, 1050, 329 P.3d 420 (2014).304 Kan. 956 Discussion The test for cumulative error is “ ‘ “ ‘whether the totality of circumstances substantially prejudiced t......
  • State v. Wimbley, 122,812
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • August 20, 2021
    ...See, e.g., Carter , 311 Kan. at 792-93, 466 P.3d 1180 ; State v. Potts , 304 Kan. 687, 703-04, 374 P.3d 639 (2016) ; State v. Williams , 299 Kan. 1039, 1046-47, 329 P.3d 420 (2014) ; State v. Littlejohn , 298 Kan. 632, 650, 316 P.3d 136 (2014).In Potts , 304 Kan. 687, 374 P.3d 639, we consi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT