In a 5-2 decision today, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the conviction of aggravated robbery and first-degree felony murder against Katron Harris.
The prosecution had alleged Harris and two others had intentionally killed Phillip Martin in an attempted aggravated robbery. The prosecution alleged Harris and others took money and drugs from Martin by threat of bodily harm while armed with a handgun.
Police found Martin dead in his home in October 2008 in Kansas City, Kan. It appeared he had been shot while cooking crack cocaine, court documents stated. Harris claimed that Martin had already been shot multiple times when he shot him once, according to court documents. According to medical testimony, Martin was hit by 16 gunshots.
Harris initially received sentences of life and 72 months, to run consecutively.
The court rejected the defendant's contention that there was insufficient evidence to prove the aggravated robbery was accomplished by “threat of bodily harm,” that the a mistrial should have been declared based on prosecutorial misconduct; and that a phrase in the felony murder statute creates an alternative means of committing the crime and the evidence was insufficient to support each means.
Justice Dan Biles wrote the majority opinion. Dissenting with a written opinion was Justice Lee A. Johnson, who was joined by Justice Nancy L. Moritz. The dissenting opinion supported reversing the decision based on the defendant's contention there was insufficient evidence to support the charged version of aggravated robbery.