Criminal: EDMONDS V. COM. (SCOKY; 4/20/2006)

CRIMINAL – Severance


DATE:  4/20/2006

SC affirmed Defendant’s conditional pleas and 20 year sentence for various sex offenses in Jefferson Circuit Court.  TC properly denied motion to sever counts.  Evidence of the acts committed against each victim would have been admissible in Defendant’s separate prosecutions for offenses committed against the other had the trial court granted his motion to sever.  Further, the lapse of eleven weeks between the separate offenses does not warrant severance.  Criminal Rule (RCr) 9.16 states that a trial court shall order separate trials for counts in an indictment "[i]f it appears that a defendant . . . will be prejudiced by a joinder of offenses." A criminal defendant is entitled to a severance only upon a showing, prior to trial, that joinder would be unduly prejudicial. Humphrey v. Commonwealth, 836 S.W.2d 865, 868 (Ky. 1992). "A significant factor in identifying such prejudice is the extent to which evidence of one offense would be admissible in a trial of the other offense." Rearick v. Commonwealth, 858 S.W.2d 185, 187 (Ky. 1993).

The trial court’s decision to deny Defendant’s motion for an additional continuance was not "arbitrary, unreasonable, unfair, or unsupported by sound legal principles."  TC properly denied motion to withdraw guilty pleas.  Statements by a defense attorney, based on his own prior experience, that a criminal defendant faces the prospect of being tried by a jury devoid of members of that defendant’s race are not misleading or inaccurate.

Digested by Scott Byrd.

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