Appeals court upholds Wyandotte County District Court sentence

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.”

KCK man ordered to repay $5,000 to Medicaid

Originally published Sept. 11, 2015

A Kansas City, Kan., man was ordered Sept. 11 to repay more than $5,000 to the Kansas Medicaid program after pleading guilty to Medicaid fraud-related charges, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Courtney Jamar Anderson, 28, pleaded guilty in June in Wyandotte County District Court to one count of making a false claim to the Medicaid program.

Judge Bill L. Klapper today ordered Anderson to repay $5,173 to the Kansas Medicaid Program. Judge Klapper also sentenced Anderson to 12 months probation and 12 months post release supervision. Convictions such as this one also result in a period during which the defendant is prohibited from being paid wages through a government health care program.

An investigation revealed that Anderson billed Medicaid for personal care attendant services while the consumer was receiving inpatient hospital care. The consumer was not in the home and did not receive the services. The crime occurred between January and April 2012.

The case was part of “Operation No Show,” a cooperative effort between the attorney general’s office and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General to investigate fraudulent billing to Medicaid for personal care services provided in Medicaid beneficiaries’ homes. Today’s sentencing brings to a close the eighth case in this joint effort to crack down on those who take advantage of these federal and state administered health care programs, a spokesman said. More than $335,000 in restitution payable to the Kansas Medicaid program has been ordered as a result of these efforts.

Other joint investigations are ongoing. The cases are being jointly investigated by federal and state authorities and prosecuted by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Division. Assistant Attorney General Alma Heckler of Schmidt’s office prosecuted the case against Anderson.

Man pleads guilty to murder from 1997 case

Torry Mashone Johnson
Torry Mashone Johnson

Originally published Sept. 11, 2015

On Sept. 11, Torry Mashone Johnson entered a guilty plea to first-degree murder in a cold-case murder from 1997.

The Wyandotte County district attorney’s office charged Johnson, now 34 years old. There is another 34-year-old suspect in the case who is now in the Wyandotte County Jail.

According to the district attorney’s office, police investigated Vicky Ernst’s death in 1997 at 950 Shawnee in Kansas City, Kan., but at that time were unable to identify the persons responsible for her death.

While the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department never closed the investigation, there were periods where no new leads meant the investigation was not active, the district attorney’s office stated. Over the course of years, forensic reports of the physical evidence were issued by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Laboratory, and more recently the district attorney’s staff and detectives from the major case unit at the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department undertook a comprehensive review of this case.

Police followed-up on newly developed leads, and the district attorney charged two men in April 2015 with Ernst’s murder, according to the district attorney’s office.

Both Torry Mashone Johnson and Jason Lanell Rucker were charged with one count of first-degree murder.

Johnson was initially charged in the Juvenile Division of Wyandotte County District Court because he was 16-years-old when Ernst was killed; however, the district attorney filed a motion to authorize prosecution as an adult, which was granted. Johnson now faces a life sentence. Sentencing has been set for 9 a.m. Oct. 16, in Division 15 of the Wyandotte County District Court. Jennifer Tatum and Kristiane Bryant are prosecuting the case.

Rucker, also 34-years-old, was likewise charged in the Juvenile Division and later ordered to be prosecuted as an adult. Rucker’s case is still pending, according to the district attorney’s office. Rucker is now in the Wyandotte County jail. Bond was set at $1 million. Rucker is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A photograph of Vicky Ernst taken days before her death.
A photograph of Vicky Ernst taken days before her death.