The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday upheld a Sedgwick County judge’s decision to leave intact the life prison sentence of an inmate who said he was improperly forced to stand trial as an adult in a 2001 murder case.
Sashada Makthepharak was 16 when he was charged in juvenile court with the May 25, 2001, shooting death of Chanh Chanthivong, 20, who was shot at least 16 times after three men kicked open the door of the Planeview home he was visiting. Authorities said the intruders were gang members who felt disrespected.
Makthepharak, now 29 and an inmate at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility, was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree felony murder, aggravated burglary and criminal possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to life plus 64 months in prison. The Kansas Supreme Court upheld his convictions in 2003.
In 2010, Makthepharak went back to court and filed a motion to correct what he said was an illegal sentence. He argued, in part, that sentencing judge David Kennedy failed to follow a state law that dictates when juveniles should be tried as adults. Another district judge, Greg Waller, denied Makthepharak’s motion and left his sentence intact.
The law in question said that a judge, when deciding whether to certify a juvenile to stand trial as an adult, must consider eight factors, including: the juvenile’s criminal record, the seriousness of the offense, whether the offense was violent, whether the offense was against a person or property, and whether there are facilities available that would likely rehabilitate the juvenile.
In his ruling, Kennedy cited Makthepharak‘s “long history with the court system,” the seriousness of the offense, the fact that the crime occurred less than two weeks after Makthepharak was released from the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility, and the fact that he failed to complete a program at Larned.
Kennedy said in his ruling that the legal factors that weren’t specifically cited in his ruling were outweighed by the ones that were.
The Supreme Court said Kennedy’s reasoning was valid.
“The court expressly stated on the record that it was aware of and had considered the other statutory factors and had found that, even if applicable, they were outweighed by the factors cited for its decision,” the opinion said. “Makthepharak is entitled to no more.”