Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Appeals Court Upholds 9-Year Contempt of Court Sentence

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Appeals Court Upholds 9-Year Contempt of Court Sentence

Article excerpt

A Reno County man sentenced to nine years in prison on a criminal contempt of court charge didn't get any relief from a Kansas Court of Appeals panel Friday.

The three-member panel upheld the conviction and sentence of Jose Delacruz, convicted in 2011 for refusing on three occasions a judge's order to testify in the first-degree murder trial of co- defendant Anthony Waller. Delacruz's nine-year sentence was ordered to be served after completion of a nearly seven-year sentence for aggravated burglary.

Delacruz and Waller both faced first-degree murder charges in the Reno County death of Joshua Haines. Delacruz was acquitted of the murder charge in December 2010, but was convicted on a second charge of aggravated burglary and sentenced to 83 months. His conviction on that charge was upheld by the Court of Appeals in 2012.

Called as a prosecution witness in Waller's 2011 murder trial, Delacruz refused to testify, citing his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent amid his fear of eventual prosecution in a federal court.

Assured in a letter from Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney for Kansas, that federal authorities had no apparent interest in his case, Delacruz -- who had an immunity agreement with Kansas -- was ordered to testify by District Court Judge Timothy Chambers. He refused to do so when called to the witness stand on three separate occasions.

Waller ultimately was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping.

At a separate trial on the contempt issue, Delacruz sought dismissal on grounds of double jeopardy and a violation of his right against self-incrimination. Both motions were denied and he was found guilty.

Delacruz cited six issues on appeal. Among them, he said his right to remain silent had been violated; that he had been wrongfully sentenced for three separate contempt events instead of a single one; and that his sentence was excessive. …

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