Appeals court confirms sexual exploitation ruling

By The Mercury

The Kansas Court of Appeals last week affirmed a Riley County District Court opinion in a case involving a Manhattan man convicted in 2012 of sexual exploitation of a child.

The district court sentenced Michael Combs to 32 months in prison with lifetime post-release supervision, but granted him 36 probation for 36 months, after a jury found him guilty on Oct. 25, 2012.

In his appeal, Combs claimed that Judge David Stutzman erred in denying a suppression motion that was filed during his case and that the lifetime post-release supervision included in his sentence is unconstitutional, according to the Court of Appeals’ unpublished opinion.

The suppression motion was filed after a Riley County Police Department detective testified in a hearing that when he first applied for a search warrant, he believed a specific IP address known to have accessed child pornographic images belonged to Combs from June to November 2011.

The detective later testified that after he applied for the search warrant, he learned that the IP address might not necessarily have belonged to Combs during that entire period.

However, another witness testified that it is possible for IP addresses to stay the same for the duration of a subscription’s service.

In its opinion, the court ruled that Combs’ motion to suppress the testimony was correctly denied because the detective’s statement in the warrant application wasn’t made deliberately or recklessly and that no contradictory evidence was presented.

As for the lifetime post-release supervision, Combs argued that the punishment was cruel and unusual because he was a first-time offender for the charge of possession of child pornography.

The Court of Appeals ruled that precedent set by the Kansas Supreme Court indicated that the supervision length isn’t considered cruel or unusual for those convicted of that crime for the first time.

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