Archive for Thursday, April 19, 2001

Pfannenstiel hearing postponed

April 19, 2001

Leavenworth County District Court Judge Frederick Stewart continued a post-trial motion hearing in the case of former Basehor mayor John Pfannenstiel so he could review motions submitted by both the prosecution and defense.

On March 23, Pfannenstiel was convicted on three counts of sexual misconduct with inmates while he was a correctional officer at the Lansing Correctional Facility. He was acquitted on a charge of smuggling contraband into the facility without permission.

In an effort to obtain a new trial, defense attorney Terry Lober submitted a motion that allegedly recants the trial testimony of key state witnesses.

According to the motion, Lober interviewed inmate Charles "Opie" Jones in October of last year. Jones testified during the trial that Pfannenstiel had sexual encounters with him.

Lober's motion states that during the interview, Jones signed a statement recanting his previous statement to prison investigators.

The document also alleges that Jones and two other inmates Lansing made the accusation so they could later file a personal injury lawsuit against the Department of Corrections, the state of Kansas and Pfannenstiel to recover the sum of $250,000.

Before the trial, the three inmates retained the services of the Jourass Law Firm of Fairway, Kan. The firm has sent a letter of intent to Gov. Bill Graves, authorities at Lansing and Pfannenstiel, asking them to acknowledge civil rights violations and accept responsibility, according to a firm representative.

Lober tried to admit the document into evidence during the trial, but it was not allowed because Jones denied he signed it. Lober said that Jones's denial came as a surprise to him and that Lober was restrained by ethical rules from taking the witness stand to verify that Jones did indeed sign the document.

It is the wish of the defense to seek an independent forensic examination of the document in order to determine the authenticity of the document, Lober said.

According to the prosecution's motion, Lober was told by Stewart that the circumstances regarding his testifying during trial fit one of the exemptions to the ethical rule. Stewart then offered Lober the opportunity to testify concerning the document and the circumstances surrounding it.

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