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Kansas Supreme Court Selected Opinion Summaries - September 27, 2002

Summaries and press releases are prepared by Ron Keefover, Office of Judicial Administration, Kansas Judicial Center, 301 West 10th, Topeka, KS 66612-1507 (785-296-2256), e-mail: keefoverr@kscourts.org.

The Supreme Court today filed 2 opinions. The full text of these decisions may be found at www.kscourts.org.

Appeal No. 84,969: State v. Mikel J. Dreiling
Appeal No. 82,983: State v. Dana L. Flynn

The Supreme Court today affirmed a Salina brother and sister's first-degree murder and related convictions arising from the shotgun slaying of a rural Geary County man that occurred more than 10 years ago.

In separate but related appeals, the Court rejected contentions of error in the joint trial of Dana Flynn and her brother, Mikel Dreiling, who were found guilty of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to commit perjury in the December 22, 1992, death of Randall Sheridan, Flynn's former husband. Dreiling also was convicted of an additional count of terroristic threat arising from statements he made to a second victim. In addition to several delays at the trial court level, their appeals were remanded after oral argument for a hearing to determine whether the appeals could legally be filed later than the statutory deadline.

Flynn and Dreiling were tried together based on circumstantial evidence surrounding the discovery of Sheridan's body on a Geary County road about a mile from Sheridan's home. He had been shot several times with a shotgun.

In Dreiling's appeal, the defense contended that the state presented insufficient evidence to support the convictions, that the trial court erred in finding materiality was an element of the perjury charge, in admitting evidence of an earlier incident involving a threat against the second of Flynn's two husbands, in refusing to conduct separate trials on the perjury and murder charges, and in allegedly violating the defendant's First Amendment rights to freedom of religion. He contended the cumulative effect of trial errors denied him a fair trial.

Similarly, Flynn unsuccessfully contended on appeal that the perjury count should have been tried separately, that there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions, and that the cumulative effect of the judge's rulings deprived her of a fair trial. However, she also contended that the state committed prosecutorial misconduct, that the court improperly admitted irrelevant inflammatory and hearsay evidence, and that a new trial should have been granted based on alleged newly discovered evidence.

The court in separate lengthy opinions rejected each of the claimed errors. Both defendants are currently serving sentences of life plus six to 15 years.