A former Wichita third-grade teacher caught dealing cocaine out of her kitchen won’t go to prison for now — but she will have to serve a 60-day jail sanction as a condition of her probation.

Heather K. Jones, 49, pleaded guilty on March 16 to one count of distributing cocaine and one count of using a phone for drug sales or purchases. Other drug distribution charges she originally faced were dismissed as part of her plea agreement with prosecutors.

Sedgwick County District Court Judge Bruce Brown on Thursday granted Jones’ request for probation after hearing a lengthy argument for it from her defense attorney, and testimony from several women who painted her as a gifted educator and generous friend.

But, he said in court, he was doing so “with some hesitancy.” Prosecutors asked that she be sent to prison.

“You’re a teacher. You know the issues drugs have in schools,” Brown told Jones before announcing her sentence.

“This is a very serious crime. … The effects of the crime of distribution of cocaine has on this community and on the individual lives of people — it’s horrendous. It’s a scourge on this community,” he said, adding that drug use and sales is the driving force behind much of Wichita’s crime.

Document: Wichita teacher sold cocaine to undercover deputy 7 times

Jones was teaching at Enders Open Magnet Elementary School in south Wichita when she was arrested in the drug case on July 11, 2017. By then she had worked for Wichita Public Schools for just shy of 10 years.

Law enforcement say she sold more than 100 grams of cocaine for just over $3,700 to an undercover Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office detective who met her seven times at her home between June 7 and July 11.

During one of the sales, Jones told the detective that she liked to pack cocaine for her customers into pink jewelry boxes that sometimes included a necklace, according to a law enforcement affidavit that provided justification for the criminal charges filed against her.

Once she gave the detective a Kit Kat candy bar bag filled with packets of the drug, the affidavit said.

According to court documents, Jones started buying cocaine for her own use in 2012 – while she was a Wichita public schools employee. Later she started providing it to a male friend, the documents say.

That friend eventually introduced her to the undercover detective, her defense attorney, Trevor Riddle, said in court.

A psychologist hired by Jones also testified Thursday that childhood abuse and trauma involving men that carried into her adulthood played a key role in her decision to buy and sell cocaine.

In Jones’ mind, she was providing the drugs to men so they would like her, the psychologist, Lance Parker, testified.

“Heather truly believed the only way to keep these men in her life was to do what they asked — which was to obtain cocaine,” Riddle said.

Sedgwick County Assistant District Attorney Mandee Schauf argued that money was the reason Jones sold drugs.

“This is about $3,000. … It’s not about pleasing these men,” Schauf said.

When it was her turn to speak, Jones apologized and blamed herself for her crimes. “I honestly believe in myself that I can be better,” she said.

In addition to serving probation and the sanction, the judge told Jones she had to pay $3,730 to the Sheriff’s Office’s narcotics restitution fund – which is the amount of money she accepted from the undercover detective during the drug deals.

He also ordered her to attend substance abuse treatment meetings three times a week for at least 90 days.

Jones is no longer a teacher with Wichita public schools and lost her teaching certification. If she violates the terms of her probation, she could be sent to prison for 25 months.

See full story at Kansas.com

WICHITA – What can police do, and not do, when they visit your home?

It’s a conversation many are having after Wichita police intentionally turned and blocked a camera on Sunday night.

“Due to safety concerns, one of the officers turned the camera away from where officers were standing on the porch,” explains Office Charley Davidson.

Defense Attorney Dan Monnat says, “It is an invasion of your privacy.”

In a report filed following the incident. One of the responding officers says they turned the camera to gain tactical advantage. Adding “and hoped that the occupants inside the residence would not see that it was the police there and open the door….”

“In our policy we can do what we need to stay safe,” says Officer Davidson. This was a violent known offender.”

Of course, safety is a top priority for police. But Monnat says what this officer did violated the homeowner’s rights.

“Police officers can’t go on your porch and do to your private property what would inspire most of us to, well, call the police.”

Without a warrant Monnat thinks this was a clear violation of the 4th amendment. The right of the people against unreasonable searches and seizures.

He says the amendment serves two purposes, to protect your rights, and the officers’.

“Officer safety is always a concern. It is a concern that the 4th amendment takes care of. It requires them to do what is reasonable. Obtain a warrant; if they are going to do more than an invitee, or social visitor is entitled to do…come on the porch.”

Police say they are going to do an internal investigation of the incident, which includes the officers body cam footage from that night.

See full interview at KSN.com

WINFIELD, Kan. (KSNW) – A victim of an alleged racial profiling incident in Winfield is considering legal action.

KSN has reached out to Rudy Samuel who recorded the incident on his cell phone. Rudy gave KSN permission to share his video. Over the weekend, he was stopped for a turn signal violation in Winfield. An officer questioned some vegetation that was found in the window sill of his car. Samuel told the officer it was from a tree. The officer told Samuel to step out of the car, and he was detained during the incident. The cell phone video cut out, but audio continued.

Attorney Dan Monnat says a lot of questions remain.

“Did the law enforcement officer really have a solid basis for immediately concluding that the vegetative matter on the window sill of the car was really contraband?” asks Monnat.

Freedom 1 Organization is the official spokesman for Samuel. The group said it is planning a protest soon in Winfield.

“Rudy is pretty shook up over this,” says Peter Wright with Freedom 1. “We are hoping to get this information out so this won’t happen to anyone else. Nowhere in this country.”

KSN has reached out to Winfield police for further comment.

“And I’m certainly aware of the video that’s online that involved our department,” said Winfield Police Chief Brett Stone. “And we train, we learn, we do conduct these traffic stops routinely.  And certainly each traffic stop has facets to it depending on the nature of the call, the nature of the stop, the nature of what the infraction is. So, we do our best to adapt and adjust to those and conduct them safely and certainly within legal guidelines.”

See full story at KSN.com

Sarah Ellen Johnson – a former Kansas Capital Appellate Defender with more than 17 years of experience in the appeals courts of Kansas – has joined Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered to lead the firm’s appellate practice and legal research and writing section.

“Sarah has taken two cases to the United States Supreme Court and filed over 80 briefs in the Kansas appeals courts, including five briefs in death penalty cases,” said Dan Monnat, president of the firm. “She is an accomplished writer with a gift for honing persuasive legal arguments, and we are thrilled to have her leading our appellate practice.”

Johnson received her law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, with honors. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Carleton College.

Founded in 1985 by litigator Dan Monnat and legal scholar Stan Spurrier, Monnat & Spurrier has built an international reputation for criminal defense, white-collar criminal defense, computer crimes defense and appellate defense. The firm now has seven attorneys.

WICHITA, Kan. – Chambers USA 2018 – which annually conducts surveys of lawyers and their clients – has ranked Dan Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, in the top tier of Kansas litigators practicing in the White-Collar Crime and Government Investigations sector. Based on its survey, Chambers USA describes Monnat as “…a highly respected practitioner who is routinely referred to by peers as a ‘top-notch’ attorney in the field of white-collar criminal defense. He offers huge experience of trial and appellate proceedings and is thought of by interviewees as ‘one of the go-to people in Kansas.'”

“It is truly gratifying to receive this review by Chambers USA,” Monnat said. “Our firm approaches every case with relentless thought, action, courage and care. Clearly, our clients and legal peers have appreciated our commitment and work ethic.”

Monnat has practiced criminal law, white-collar criminal law and appellate law in Wichita for more than 40 years. A graduate of California State University, Monnat received his J.D. from Creighton University School of Law. He also is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College.

A frequent national lecturer and editorial contributor on criminal defense topics, Monnat is the author of “Sentencing, Probation, and Collateral Consequences,” a chapter of the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Criminal Law Handbook, 5th edition. He was the Governor’s appointee to the Kansas Sentencing Commission from 2007 – 2011.

Monnat has earned distinction as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, the Litigation Counsel of America and the Kansas Bar Foundation. He currently sits on the Kansas Association of Trial Lawyers’ Board of Editors.

Monnat is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association and served as a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Board of Directors from 1996 – 2004. He is a frequent lecturer at NACDL conferences and at other legal seminars around the country.

A former teacher and coach at Victoria Junior/Senior High School was sentenced Monday in Ellis County District Court to three years of probation for sexual battery of a 14-year-old student.

Jordan Ottley, 26, entered no-contest Alford pleas to charges of aggravated endangerment of a child, two counts of battery and one count of sexual battery.

“In an Alford plea, a person pleads to a crime the state cannot prove in order to avoid possible conviction for a more serious crime that the state might be able to prove,” said Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said.

The incident allegedly occurred in January 2017, and Ottley was charged in October 2017.

The plea will mean Ottley will have to register as a sex offender for 15 years and likely no longer will be able to work as a teacher, because the offense is non-expungeable. Ottley no longer works for the Victoria school district.

Drees said the victim and her mother were aware of the plea agreement but did not wish to appear in court for the sentencing. The victim never reported the incident, Drees said, but it was the family seeking help for Ottley that led to treatment for bipolar disorder and, in doing so, it was brought to the authorities’ attention. Ottley has remained in counseling while the case was pending.

“Frankly, the student has received a great deal of verbal abuse at school because a popular teacher was charged in this matter,” Drees said.

Ottley said he wished to apologize to all parties involved. He said this incident did not reflect how he usually carries himself personally or professionally.

Prior to sentencing, Ottley’s attorney Sal Intagliata pointed out Ottley’s wife, other family members, friends and Ottley’s therapist were present in court to support Ottley.

Letters from supporters described Ottley as “highly respectful and a human being someone would want to emulate” and someone his “class and friends look up to” and an “all-around good guy.”

Intagliata said Ottley did not know he had bipolar disorder and had been given medication for anxiety. This led to him having a manic episode, during which the crime occurred. Intagliata called Ottley’s behavior as uncharacteristic.

Ottley’s wife, who he has a child with, said in a letter to the court, “This is not what Jordan wanted for our future, he deserves a chance to beat it,” referring to his bipolar disorder.

Ottley’s priest wrote Ottley was a hard worker and would be an asset to society. He said in his letter he was surprised by Ottley’s actions, which he said was inconsistent with his usual behavior.

If Ottley fails to meet his probation requirements, he will face up to two years in prison. If he successfully serves his first two years of probation, he will be eligible to serve his final year of probation unsupervised.

Ottley was ordered to pay court fees.

WICHITA, Kan. – Who’s Who Legal 2018 has named Dan Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, one of the world’s leading practitioners in the Investigations sector. Who’s Who Legal collaborates annually with Global Investigations Review to identify the world’s leading lawyers, forensic accountants and digital forensics experts who assist companies and individuals under investigation by regulators and/or law enforcement.

“I’m truly honored to be recognized again among this group of lawyers renowned for their investigative and bet-the-company defense work,” said Monnat. “Whether monitoring dawn raids by regulators and enforcement officers, advising company personnel of their rights, overseeing investigations, or ensuring that regulatory and law enforcement authorities are held accountable throughout the investigation, our firm is dedicated to protecting clients’ Constitutional rights.”

Monnat has practiced in Wichita for more than 40 years, handling criminal and white-collar criminal cases that have attracted worldwide attention. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Criminal Lawyers and the Litigation Counsel of America.

A graduate of California State University, Monnat received his J.D. from Creighton University School of Law and is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College. 

A frequent national lecturer and editorial contributor on criminal defense topics, Monnat is the author of “Sentencing, Probation, and Collateral Consequences,” a chapter of the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Criminal Law Handbook, 5th edition.  From 2007 – 2011, Monnat served on the Kansas Sentencing Commission as a Governor’s appointee. He currently sits on the Kansas Association of Trial Lawyers’ Board of Editors. 

Monnat served as a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Board of Directors from 1996 – 2004, and is a two-term past president of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

LOS ANGELES – A 25-year-old Los Angeles man wanted in Kansas has waived extradition proceedings in California and will face a felony allegation that he made a hoax emergency call that led to the fatal police shooting of a Wichita resident.

Tyler Barriss appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday and acknowledged he is the person wanted in Kansas.

A fugitive-from-justice warrant filed by Los Angeles County prosecutors says Barriss was charged in Kansas on Dec. 29 with the felony of making a false alarm.

Police have said 28-year-old Andrew Finch was shot after a prankster called 911 last week with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at Finch’s Wichita home.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Barriss would be picked up in the next two to three weeks, but authorities have until February 2.

Once Barriss makes his first appearance in Sedgwick County District Court, details of the charges filed will be made public, Bennett said.

In the meantime Barriss remains held without bail.

See Dan Monnat’s full interview at KAKE.com

BARBER COUNTY, Kan. – KSN has obtained body cam footage of the moments leading up to and after the night Steven Myers was shot and killed by a Barber County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Kristina Myers, Myers’ widow says she was not given any warning before the release of the video.

“You know I could have been in the living room watching TV and it could have just come on. No one notified us that they had released it,” says Myers.

It also comes as a shock to her and the family’s legal counsel.

Michael Kuckleman, counsel for the family, “We don’t know why it was released. Up until yesterday the sheriff had been arguing that it was protected under the exception for criminal investigation.”

Attorney Jeff Jordan, who is representing Sheriff Lonnie Small of the Barber County Sheriff’s Office, says they released the footage as part of Kansas Open Records Act. He says he cannot comment on the content of the video. Myers’s family are now pressing for more footage.

Kuckelman says, “We don’t know how many are available. What we do know is they have released a dash and a body cam for 3 of the four officers who were there that night. The 4th officer they haven’t released anything and the fourth officer just happens to be the shooter.”

Myers says, “We are trying to stay strong, trying to stick together and help the kids get through the Christmas holiday without too much of a hiccup.”

KSN sought legal counsel from defense attorney Dan Monnat to see if it is common in Kansas for a judge to order the release of the video, like what was done in this case, and what should be expected when the public requests body cam footage from police.

Monnat says, “Well, I don’t think it is common, but I think it ought to be common because transparency is exactly what we should have in a free country.”

A hearing will take place Friday at Barber County District Court. Both the sheriff and undersheriff have been subpoenaed to take the stand. Attorneys representing the family say the purpose of the hearing is to determine if there have been any violations of the Kansas Open Records Act.

See full video at KSN.com

Eli O’Brien has joined Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered as an associate attorney. His primary practice will focus on the defense of serious felony accusations.

O’Brien has been an attorney with the Sedgwick County Public Defender’s Office since 2015, providing counsel and trial advocacy for indigent persons accused of felony crimes.

“We’re delighted to have Eli join the firm as he will be a welcome addition to our ever-expanding criminal defense practice,” said Dan Monnat, President of the firm. “We are seeing a significant influx of criminal defense matters, at all levels of severity from misdemeanors to serious felony cases. Eli tried several difficult jury trials while at the Public Defender’s Office, and that broad experience will serve our client base particularly well.”

A graduate of Washburn University School of Law, O’Brien also holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Emporia State University. He is a member of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Founded in 1985 by litigator Dan Monnat and legal scholar Stan Spurrier, Monnat & Spurrier has built an international reputation for criminal defense and appellate defense. In addition to Monnat, Spurrier and O’Brien, the firm includes two former prosecutors, Trevor Riddle and Sal Intagliata, associate attorney Matt Gorney, and legal research and writing specialist Kathryn Stevenson.