The Kansas Court of Appeals is reviewing a case involving a 22-year-old Wichita man who was granted immunity from prosecution in the December 2014 shooting death of a 32-year-old Garden City man.
Finney County District Judge Michael Quint ruled in February 2015 that Loren Wiseman, now 22, was immune from prosecution in the shooting death of 32-year-old Jeremy Pascascio because he didnít have an obligation to retreat from the altercation between the two. Quint dismissed all charges against Wiseman and released him from the Finney County Jail.
In August 2015, the state appealed Quintís ruling with the Kansas Supreme Court, arguing that Wiseman was not immune from prosecution and that there was sufficient evidence of premeditation.
The Kansas Appellate Defenders Office in Topeka filed an appellee brief on Wisemanís behalf in January, arguing in favor of Quintís ruling. Oral arguments were presented to a three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals July 19 at the Sherman County Courthouse in Goodland.
In a phone interview Friday, Deputy Finney County Attorney William Votypka said the state feels that Quint erred in his February 2015 ruling, but declined to elaborate since the appeal is under review.
Quint ruled there was a basis for Wiseman to fear for his safety, and that of his girlfriend, Alexandra Escarcega, in the altercation that led to Pascascioís death on Dec. 6, 2014.
Garden City police found Pascascio lying in the Dillons East parking lot, 1305 E. Kansas Ave., with gunshot wounds to his upper body. He died later at St. Catherine Hospital.
The shooting followed a verbal altercation between Pascascio and Wiseman.
In his ruling, Quint highlighted Wisemanís and Escarcegaís testimony that Pascascio had attempted repeatedly to force his way into the vehicle by yanking on the locked passenger door handle, as well as witness testimony about verbal threats Pascascio made toward the couple during the incident.
Quint expressed reservations about the ruling at the time, calling it a ďtroublesome caseĒ that he would have preferred go before a jury. However, he said based on his review, the defendant was entitled to statutory immunity and that the state ďfailed to show by a probable cause that said immunity did not apply.Ē
Before granting the immunity, Quint ruled the state showed probable cause that a felony was committed, but failed to prove Wisemanís act was premeditated. Quint said the most severe crime that Wiseman could be charged with is second-degree murder.
According to the ruling, because Wiseman invoked the immunity provision at the earliest stage of the proceedings, the state had to show not only that probable cause existed, but also that deadly force was not justified, which Quint ruled it failed to do.
Prior to Quintís ruling, which he made during Wisemanís preliminary hearing, Votypka and Assistant Finney County Nick Vrana argued in court that Pascascio was unarmed and that because Wiseman counted down twice before shooting Pascascio, he had time to justify, contemplate and premeditate the murder.
Votypka also argued that the reason Wiseman eventually pulled the trigger was because he was angered by Pascascio laughing at him for not shooting him after the first countdown.
Votypka concluded the stateís arguments during the preliminary hearing by saying the state showed probable cause of a crime being committed by the defendant and that Wisemanís use of force was not justified.
Kristi Cott, who was Wisemanís defense attorney at the time, argued during the preliminary hearing that Wiseman used his gun as a warning, and that providing two countdowns before the shooting was also a warning, not premeditation.
She also argued that while Pascascio never entered the vehicle, it was reasonable to assume he intended to act violently because of his continued threats toward the couple, and that the couple was dealing with someone who didnít react like a normal person would when confronted with a gun. In effect, Cott argued, Pascascio didnít appear to value his own life.
During the preliminary hearing, Cott said witnesses who didnít know either Wiseman or Escarcega corroborated much of the coupleís testimony.
Lisa Taylor, public information director with the Kansas Supreme Court Office of Judicial Administration, said the Court of Appeals likely would make its ruling on the case within the next 30 days.