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Kansas Supreme Court Selected Opinion Summaries
State v. Errik A. Harris, Docket 95723
July 13, 2007

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.

RE: Appeal No. 95,723: State v. Errik A. Harris

The Kansas Supreme Court today unanimously upheld one capital murder conviction of defendant Errik A. Harris, but reversed second and third counts as violations of the double jeopardy clauses in the state and federal constitutions.

Harris was prosecuted in the Wyandotte County murder case with Darrell Stallings; the men were responsible for a late-night shooting spree in 2002 in which five persons died and a sixth was injured. Harris was convicted on three counts of capital murder after a non-jury trial before District Judge Thomas L. Boeding. The state did not seek the death penalty.

Killed during the series of shootings said to have been led by Stallings as revenge for an aggravated battery of his mother two months earlier were Tiana "Trina" Jennings, Melvin Montague, Samatha Sigler, Destiny Wiles, and Tameika Jackson.

The Supreme Court ruled that the second and third capital murder counts against Harris impermissibly involved the same victims and facts used to support the first capital murder count. In a decision written by Justice Carol A. Beier, the court said that convicting Harris of more than one count for a single offense defined by the legislature to cover more than one victim created the "potential for multiple punishments" for a single offense in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution and its similar Kansas provision.

Today's decision left intact the defendant's minimum 25-year prison sentence, but eliminated two additional hard 25 sentences that were based on the second and third capital counts.