Crime & Courts

Man not guilty — but still in jail

Hashiem Ford is headed back to prison a week after a jury found him not guilty of first-degree murder.

It took a Sedgwick County District Court jury less than 90 minutes to acquit Ford on Feb. 12. But Ford had already been found in violation of his parole for those same charges, his public defender said.

"Here we are, spending taxpayer money to keep someone in prison after they've been found not guilty," said Chrystal Krier, Ford's lawyer. "It doesn't make any sense."

A spokesman for the Kansas Department of Corrections said Ford's parole was revoked after a probable cause finding while he was in the Sedgwick County Jail awaiting trial.

"The next step in this process is that he will be returned to prison, where he will be provided a revocation hearing before members of the Kansas Parole Board, who will determine if the probable cause findings will be upheld, and if Ford will be revoked for those violations," said Bill Miskell, KDOC public affairs director.

Krier said the parole hearing, and decision, took place before the trial. She learned about it after the trial.

"His mother called me and said they wouldn't let him out of jail, so that's when I started checking into it," Krier said.

Krier said parole hearings are conducted by the officers in the local office. It is not a court proceeding where Ford could be represented by legal counsel.

Probable cause is a lower standard of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required at trial.

Miskell said the Department of Corrections could not discuss specifics of the violations until after Ford faces the Parole Board.

But Krier said when she talked to the parole office, officials told her that Ford had been revoked because of "assaultive behavior" and "possession of a gun."

"Both were directly a result of the murder charge," she said.

Krier said police didn't find a gun when they searched his house, before he was charged in the shooting death last May of Leroy Fields, 44, in a duplex at 224 S. Kansas.

The key witness against Ford named him after being arrested for shoplifting, Krier said, then recanted his testimony at the preliminary hearing.

Another man who was at the duplex pointed to Ford as one of the men who burst into the house with guns, even though they had worn masks. That witness had not named Ford until the preliminary hearing.

On May 13, Krier said Ford had scheduled a meeting with his parole officer for the next day. Ford's girlfriend testified he was with her after midnight May 14, when the shooting took place.

Ford had been on parole after serving 11 years for participating in a carjacking when he was 18.