The Kansas Supreme Court reversed a former Inman police chief’s convictions on sexual abuse charges Friday, and a new trial was ordered.
A jury found Michael Akins guilty of 15 of 19 submitted counts of molesting some of his step-children in January 2011.
Under Jessica’s Law, Akins was sentenced to two consecutive hard 25 life terms for two convictions of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.
The court also sentenced Akins to 59 months in prison consecutive to the life sentences for one aggravated indecent liberties conviction and concurrent terms ranging from 6 to 63 months for the remaining 12 offenses.
In the appeal, Akins attorney alleged the assistant attorney general who prosecuted the case, Christine Ladner, made several errors that denied Akins a fair trial.
An interview technique called Finding Words was used to interview the children in the case. The technique is specifically designed for interviewing children in abuse cases.
The court determined Ladner incorrectly referred to Finding Words as the “gold standard” and cited a case in which the Finding Words was allegedly praised as such.
Ladner also repeatedly referred to Akins’ alleged “grooming” of the children in case, yet did not introduce an expert to testify about grooming as a practice in the sexual abuse cases.
Dan Monnat, Akins attorney, said the prosecutor “posed as her own unsworn psuedo-psychological expert.”
Further, the court determined Ladner improperly praised the children and their testimony as factual and asserted Akins was lying.
Monnat said Akins denied the allegations under oath and has continued to maintain his innocence since his conviction.
“The allegations were based on the statements the children made in response to leading questions by their mother after she separated from Mr. Akins,” Monnat said in a news release Friday.
A spokesman for the Kansas Attorney General’s Office said the office was reviewing the court’s decision today, but did not have a statement at this time.
No information was available as to when the case might be set for retrial.
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McPherson Sentinel – By Cristina Janney