Multiple felonies reduced to single misdemeanor
Attorney Katie Kauffman’s client was facing 10 years to life in prison if convicted on the felony domestic violence charges leveled against him earlier this year: first-degree kidnapping, second-degree assault, stalking and felony violation of a no-contact order.
The most serious charge was first-degree kidnapping. A conviction requires the defendant to go before the state’s Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board at the end of a court-ordered prison term, and the board members can decide to keep the person in prison for life.
Instead, Kauffman’s client was released this week from the Clark County Jail.
His felony charges were dismissed and he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of violating a no-contact order. A Clark County Superior Court judge gave him credit for the 150 days he’d served awaiting trial.
The dramatic reduction in charges was due to the fact that the client’s ex-girlfriend, who had accused him of driving her to a remote location in north Clark County and torturing her for five hours, was inconsistent about her story and caught in several lies. When she reported her ex-boyfriend to the Clark County Sheriff's Office, she did have bruises that supported her claims that he had attempted to strangle her.
But over the subsequent months she proved to be an unreliable witness for the prosecution. During her first pre-trial interview with a defense investigator, she got up and left only a few minutes into the interview. As victims are required to do a defense interview, Kauffman obtained a court order for a deposition. The woman showed up 45 minutes late to the deposition and was caught in several lies, for example denying she ever made allegations that she in fact had written out in court documents under penalty of perjury.
The woman brought one of her children to the deposition, and it was clear from the child’s answers that she had been coached to lie.
Kauffman was working on an alibi defense and planning to go to trial in January when the Clark County deputy prosecutor handling the case notified her that she was reducing the charges to a single misdemeanor count of violating a no-contact order. Kauffman went to visit her client in jail to deliver the good news and he broke down in tears.