Originally published Sept. 11, 2015
The Kansas Court of Appeals today upheld a Wyandotte County District Court sentence in a burglary and theft case.
Johnathon Earl White asked the court to change his sentence, 25 years after it was handed down.
White appealed his sentence under the Habitual Criminal Act. Convicted of one count of aggravated robbery and three counts of kidnapping in 1987, White was sentenced under the Habitual Criminal Act as a third-time offender, according to court documents.
White was convicted of felonies in two earlier cases involving burglary and theft.
If the court would not have sentenced him under the Habitual Criminal Act, he would have received a minimum of 5 to 15 years and a maximum of 20 years to life for the aggravated robbery conviction and each of the kidnapping convictions.
The Wyandotte County District Court sentenced White to not less than 45 years to life imprisonment for the aggravated robbery conviction and for each kidnapping conviction, according to court documents. The sentences were to run concurrently with each other, but consecutive to sentences already imposed in earlier cases.
Because the crimes were committed with a firearm, White was not eligible for probation and could not achieve parole until he had served the minimum sentence, less good time credits, according to court documents.
In 2012, White filed his motion to correct the sentence. He alleged the statutes did not give the court the authority to impose the 45-years-to-life sentence.
When the court appointed a lawyer for White, the lawyer argued that the district court erred in sentencing White as a third-time offender because the court had not sentenced him as a second time offender for his second felony conviction in 1983.
Today the Court of Appeals stated that the court did not have to sentence a defendant as a second-time offender before sentencing the defendant as a third-time offender.
“For sentencing under the Act, all that matters is a defendant’s prior felony convictions,” the Court of Appeals stated in today’s decision. “Consequently, White’s sentence as a third-time offender is legal because he had two prior felony convictions.”