The Kansas Supreme Court today upheld the conviction of Rickey Marks of the first-degree premeditated murder of his wife.
His wife, Rozeta Marks, was stabbed eight times while driving to a store with her husband on Oct. 11, 2008. The medical examiner’s evidence indicated she was stabbed through the driver’s side window, according to court records.
A friend of the deceased testified that Marks had telephoned his wife a few weeks before the stabbing, when she visited a friend in another state, and accused her of infidelity in many messages. Court testimony indicated he had left threatening messages. Rozeta filed for divorce secretly in the other state.
After she returned here, one of the defendant’s brothers testified, the husband and wife were together in a car, and seemed normal about 15 to 20 minutes before the murder. One of the brothers testified that Rozeta had fallen down in the street, told him she had been stabbed, and the husband drove away “kind of fast” in her car, according to court records. Several people testified that the defendant had telephoned them afterward and talked about stabbing his wife 20 times.
Court records also revealed that the husband had testified there was an argument in the car over his losing the receipt for tools, with the husband claiming that Rozeta pulled a knife on him, and a struggle ensued.
However, the jury apparently did not believe the story, and convicted the husband of first-degree premeditated murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.
The defendant claimed the prosecutor’s remarks that premeditation could be formed during the act itself prejudiced his right to a fair trial.
The Supreme Court, in the 5-2 decision today, rejected Marks’ contentions of errors in allowing evidence that his wife sued for divorce in the weeks prior to her murder, that the district attorney’s “open file” discovery process violated state statutes, and cumulative error.
The majority did find error in the prosecutor’s closing argument, but held it did not rise above harmless error.
Justice Dan Biles wrote the majority opinion. A dissenting opinion was written by Justice Lee A. Johnson and joined by Justice Nancy L. Moritz.
Johnson wrote: “I continue to reject the notion that a person can premeditate a murder while committing the murder. In my view, concurrent premeditation is an oxymoronic concept that obliterates the distinguishing feature of first-degree premeditated murder.”
The case is online at http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/SupCt/2013/20130419/103289.pdf.