Crime & Courts

Kansas Supreme Court reverses appeals ruling in lifetime parole juvenile case

The Kansas Supreme Court hears arguments in a case earlier this year. In a written opinion, the state’s high court said last week that an appeals court ruling was wrong to uphold lifetime post-release supervision for a man who pleaded guilty to a 2009 sexual assault on a 13-year-old committed when he himself was 17. (March 24, 2015)
The Kansas Supreme Court hears arguments in a case earlier this year. In a written opinion, the state’s high court said last week that an appeals court ruling was wrong to uphold lifetime post-release supervision for a man who pleaded guilty to a 2009 sexual assault on a 13-year-old committed when he himself was 17. (March 24, 2015) File photo

The state’s high court has ruled that lifetime parole imposed on a juvenile convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child “categorically constitutes cruel and unusual punishment” and violates the Constitution.

In a written opinion reversing an appeals court ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court said last week the lower court was wrong to uphold lifetime post-release supervision for a man who pleaded guilty to a 2009 sexual assault on a 13-year-old committed when he himself was 17.

Originally charged in Sedgwick County District Court with rape and prosecuted as an adult, Bryce Dull admitted in a plea deal to the lesser crime of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and was sentenced in 2011 to 45 months in prison. Judge Philip Journey ordered that it be served consecutively with a three-year sentence in a burglary and theft case.

Journey also sentenced Dull to lifetime supervision by the Kansas Department of Corrections after his release from prison, as required under state law.

Among sanctions under the punishment, Dull would have been required to register and report to a local sheriff’s office and parole officer for life; be subjected to polygraph tests and searches of his home, vehicles and property for life at the request of his parole officer; and could not drink alcohol or travel out of state without permission from his parole officer.

If convicted of a new crime in the future, regardless of severity, he faced a possible prison sentence of life without parole eligibility.

In seeking a review of the Kansas Appeals Court decision that upheld the sentence, Dull argued that it was “cruel and unusual” to impose lifetime parole on a juvenile convicted of a sex offense “that does not involve sexual penetration.”

The Supreme Court agreed and remanded the case back to county court for re-sentencing on the length of his post-release supervision. It held, however, that the county court did not abuse its discretion in ordering that Dull’s sentences run consecutively.

Dull, now 23, currently is serving his sentence at the Wichita Work Release Center, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records. His earliest possible release date is Feb. 23, 2016.

The state high court has previously held that lifetime parole isn’t too severe a punishment for adult sex offenders.

Senior Judge Michael Malone wrote Friday’s opinion.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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