The Kansas Supreme Court today upheld the conviction of Deborah Meeks of second-degree intentional murder in a case from December 2009 in Kansas City, Kan.
According to court documents, a jury in Wyandotte County convicted Deborah Meeks of second-degree intentional murder for fatally shooting her former partner, Wesley Smith, as he sat on a bed in his home.
Meeks admitted shooting Smith, but said she suffered from battered woman syndrome from years of abusive and manipulative mistreatment at the hands of her partner, according to court documents.
The trial court had excluded evidence of battered woman syndrome because Meeks did not assert self-defense at the trial.
A doctor for the defense submitted a written report that said Meeks killed Smith after an unusually controlling two-week period, which was the culmination of years of abuse and control, and that Meeks had acted in a manner that appeared to have been outside her conscious decision-making control. This report was not admitted by the trial court apparently because self-defense was not claimed by the defendant at the time, and the defense did not present legal authority for the idea that expert testimony about battered woman syndrome could be admitted in cases where the defendant was not acting in self-defense.
Also, the court did not allow evidence to be introduced of prior instances of acts of violence committed by Smith upon Meeks because there was no evidence that she was in danger when she went to Smith’s house with a gun, according to court documents.
Meeks originally had been charged with first-degree murder, but the jury decided upon second-degree murder.
In today’s ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court said that “a defendant cannot disclaim a theory of defense before the trial court and then claim on appeal that he or she was prevented from pursuing that defense theory.”
The decision is online at www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/SupCt/2014/20141219/106107.pdf.