By Lawrence Journal-World |
Kansas Court of Appeals dismisses murder case against Danny Queen in 2017 Eudora bar shooting
photo by: Sara Shepherd/Journal-World File Photo
Story updated at 2:53 p.m. Thursday:
The Kansas Court of Appeals has dismissed the case against Danny W. Queen, who had been sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison for second-degree murder, because of speedy trial violations.
Queen, now 39, of Eudora, fatally shot a man outside a Eudora bar, then tried to kill two others, a jury found on Aug. 1, 2018.
In its ruling published Thursday, the court overturned Queen’s convictions and vacated his sentences because the Douglas County District Court had miscalculated the time to bring Queen to a speedy trial, and his jury trial was scheduled to start three days late. The opinion states that the court incorrectly believed, and the prosecutor incorrectly confirmed, that the speedy trial deadline was a month later than it actually was.
As a result of the violation, under state law Queen cannot be retried. However, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said in a statement emailed to the Journal-World Thursday that his office will petition the Kansas Supreme Court for review of this case.
A jury convicted Queen of second-degree murder for fatally shooting Bo M. Hopson, 32, of Eudora, at D-Dubs Bar and Grill. Jurors also found Queen guilty of attempted second-degree murder for trying to kill bar patron Clark Orth and guilty of attempted voluntary manslaughter for trying to kill patron Dustin Crowe.
photo by: Contributed Photo
On the day Queen’s jury trial was set to begin, his lawyers, Dakota Loomis and Joshua Seiden, had moved to dismiss the case in district court for speedy trial violations, according to the appellate court’s opinion and previous Journal-World coverage. However, the prosecutor, Amy McGowan, objected and the district court held several hearings before denying the motion and proceeding with the jury trial, the opinion states.
It was not clear when defense counsel had realized that the set trial date was actually just outside the bounds of the speedy trial window.
“Neither side corrected the court,” since-retired Judge Peggy Kittel said at the time, adding that both sides had a “duty of candor” to not allow the court to be misled, according to previous Journal-World reports.
In its opinion, the appellate court ruled that it must reverse the convictions for the speedy trial violation and therefore it did not consider asserted trial errors.
“Queen’s lawyer had no duty to alert the district court to the looming speedy trial violation,” the opinion states. “The consequences of the failure to correct the district court’s error must be attributed to the State alone. The district court erred when it denied Queen’s motion to dismiss on statutory speedy-trial grounds.”
Branson said the district court miscalculated the speedy trial deadline resulting in the jury trial being set three days late, and that the court later ruled that “a crowded docket exception to the speedy trial rules applied and that the defense agreed to the late date.”
But the Court of Appeals disagreed, Branson said. The opinion states that the crowded docket rationale cannot be applied retroactively to justify a trial delay.
“This case presents unique facts because most speedy trial issues involve time calculations on continuances,” Branson wrote. “Here no party sought a continuance of the trial.”
Peter Maharry, of the Kansas Appellate Defender Office, appealed the case, according to the opinion. Maharry did not immediately respond to a phone message from the Journal-World on Thursday.
Queen could seek an appellate bond, but otherwise he will remain in custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections at least until the Kansas Supreme Court has reviewed the appellate court’s decision. According to online KDOC records, Queen is in custody at Norton Correctional Facility.
The family of Hopson had also filed a civil case against Queen. Queen and the plaintiff, Hopson’s father, jointly requested the dismissal after reaching a settlement in late April, and the case was formally dismissed June 17, 2019, according to court records. The terms of that settlement were not filed in court.
Contact Mackenzie Clark
Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact public safety reporter Mackenzie Clark:• firstname.lastname@example.org • 785-832-7198 • Twitter: @mclarknews
More Lawrence Journal-World crime, courts and fire coverage
More coverage: Danny Queen case
• Jan. 4, 2019 — Man sentenced to nearly 19 years for 2017 murder outside Eudora bar
• Dec. 17, 2018 — Probation or 22 years? Judge considering fate of Eudora bar customer convicted of murder
• Oct. 9, 2018 — Sentencing delayed for man convicted in Eudora bar murder
• Aug. 1, 2018 — Man convicted of second-degree murder in Eudora bar killing
• July 31, 2018 — Was deadly force justified? Jury now deliberating in Eudora bar murder case
• July 30, 2018 — Eudora bar murder defendant says he had been drinking heavily, feared for his life
• July 27, 2018 — Security video played at trial shows scuffle, shooting and beating of suspect outside Eudora bar
• July 26, 2018 — Jurors to see video of Eudora bar shooting; trial likely to continue into next week
• July 25, 2018 — Witnesses say defendant instigated fight that led to deadly shooting outside Eudora bar
• July 24, 2018 — Defendant to claim self-defense in 2017 deadly shooting at Eudora bar
• July 23, 2018 — Potential jurors in Eudora shooting case asked about views on guns, alcohol
• April 7, 2018 — Court mistakenly misses speedy trial deadline in murder case; defendant asks for charges to be dismissed because of it