The bill would amend the definition of capital murder to include the intentional and premeditated killing of a child under the age of 14. A conviction of capital murder can result in the imposition of the death penalty.
Under current law, the intentional and premeditated killing of a child under the age of 14 is a capital offense only when the crime is committed:
Those sex offenses that are currently elements of the crime are rape, aggravated indecent liberties with a child, aggravated criminal sodomy, prostitution, promoting prostitution, or sexual exploitation of a child as those crimes are defined by Kansas law.
As amended by the House, the bill also would create a new procedure in capital murder cases. Under that provision, the court would hold a hearing after the prosecutor filed a notice of intent to request a separate sentencing proceeding to determine whether the defendant should be sentenced to death. At that hearing, the court would determine whether a "hard 40" sentence would be sufficient to protect the public from the defendant. If the court determined that the "hard 40" was sufficient, the death penalty would not be imposed. The House amendment also would add a new element to the list of statutory mitigating circumstances. The new circumstance would be that a term of imprisonment would be sufficient to protect the public from the defendant.
Another House amendment would require that executions be carried out during a specific week designated by the Supreme Court, rather than on a specific date. The Secretary of Corrections could perform the execution at any time during the designated week. The Secretary would have to provide notice of the date of the execution to the clerk of the Supreme Court, the clerk of the district court in which the defendant was convicted, the defendant, the defendant's counsel, and the Attorney General. The execution could take place anytime during the date selected or as soon thereafter as the Secretary of Corrections deemed appropriate.
The House amendments also establish procedures under which the Supreme Court would:
set the execution week of a convict determined by a court to be sane or who had escaped from custody and was not recaptured prior to the original execution date; or
suspend a death sentence if the convict is found to be insane or determined to be pregnant.
Finally, the House amended the bill to keep confidential the identities of witnesses, executioners, and other persons who assist with an execution. A witness could elect to reveal the witness's identity.
Testimony in support of the bill was presented to the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs by Representative Doug Mays and the Attorney General. Opponents of the bill included the father of a child who had been murdered and a representative of Amnesty International. The Chief Attorney of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit presented cost information to the Committee at its hearing on the bill.
The fiscal note prepared by the Division of the Budget states that enactment of the bill could result in $178,396 additional expenditures from the State General Fund in FY 1999 for defense costs through the Board of Indigents' Defense Services. That amount would cover an additional 1.8 FTE attorney positions and costs of expert services. The fiscal note includes estimates of on-going costs of $183,748 in FY 2000 and $189,260 in FY 2001. The fiscal note states that enactment of the bill would have negligible fiscal impact on the Department of Corrections. At the time the fiscal note was prepared, an estimate of any fiscal impact on the Attorney General's office was not available. The fiscal note was prepared for the introduced version of the bill, so does not address any impact of amendments.
1. *Supplemental notes are prepared by the Legislative Research Department and do not express legislative intent. The supplemental note and fiscal note for this bill may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.ink.org/public/legislative/fulltext-bill.html.