A defendant is entitled to present alternate theories of defense at trial. And the jury must receive each instruction supported by the evidence—regardless of which party presents that evidence. In State v. Lindemuth, Christopher Joseph and Carrie Parker’s application of this law resulted in a reversed conviction for their client.
The case began in 2015, when a truck driver parked his trailer in a Topeka parking lot owned by Topeka developer Kent Lindemuth. He detached his tractor and drove off to obtain supplies for his trip, leaving the trailer and cargo in the lot. As the trailer’s presence on his property was unauthorized, Lindemuth had it towed.
Lindemuth then went to his office and had several telephone conversations with Matthews, the owner of trailer. Matthews alleged that Lindemuth had threatened to shoot and kill him during those phone calls. Based on Matthews’s allegations, the State of Kansas charged Lindemuth with two counts of criminal threat in Shawnee County District Court.
At trial, Matthews and Lindemuth offered different versions of what was said during the calls. Matthews admitted that he threatened Lindemuth, including telling Lindemuth that he intended come to Lindemuth’s office and cause Lindemuth physical harm. Matthews’s testimony indicated that, if Lindemuth did threaten Matthews, Lindemuth’s threats were made to prevent Matthews from coming to his office and harming him. Lindemuth testified that he never threatened Matthews.
Lindemuth requested that the jury be instructed on K.S.A. § 21-5223(a), which provides that a person is justified in conveying threats of death or significant bodily harm when such person reasonably believes those threats are necessary to prevent another’s unlawful entry into such person’s workplace. The district court refused to give the instruction because Lindemuth had affirmatively denied making any threats.
On appeal, Christopher Joseph and Carrie Parker demonstrated that the district court erred because Matthews’s testimony supported the requested instruction, even if Lindemuth’s didn’t. They argued that failure to give the instruction denied Lindemuth his right to present alternate defenses and required that Lindemuth’s conviction be reversed. The Kansas Court of Appeals agreed. On March 30, 2018, the court reversed Lindemuth’s conviction.
The defense attorneys at Joseph, Hollander & Craft handle all aspects of criminal representation, including district court proceedings and appeals. With attorneys in Wichita (316-262-939), Topeka (785-234-3272), Lawrence (785-856-0143), and Overland Park (913-948-9490), we serve clients from the Oklahoma border to the Kansas City area.