Smyser convicted on child sodomy charge

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A Florence man was convicted Friday in the Marion County District Court of one count of aggravated criminal sodomy of a child.

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Robert Smyser (right) leaves the courtroom escorted by his attorney, David Harger.

A jury of nine men and three women heard four days of testimony before rendering Robert S. Smyser, 29, guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Kansas Attorney General Steve Six stated the offense is an ?off-grid person felony? and pursuant to Jessica?s Law, named for Jessica Lunsford, who was raped and murdered in Florida, Smyser could face life without the possibility of parole until 25 years, as well as lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius enacted Jessica?s Law, which is designed to punish sex offenders and reduce their ability to re-offend.

District Court Judge Michael F. Powers presided over the trial as the prosecutor and defense attorney walked the jury through what happened Saturday, April 5, 2008, and for the next two days following the incident.

Kansas Assistant Attorney Amy Hanley prosecuted the case at the request of Marion County Attorney Susan Robson and David Harger served as Smyser?s defense attorney.

Florence Chief of Police Conroy Miller testified in court that he was first notified about 6 p.m. April 6 that a sexual assault had taken place in Florence.

After learning the young female victim and mother were in Wichita, he called one of his officers interview them. Miller also took appropriate steps to conduct a search warrant at the Florence home and enlisted the help of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for DNA forensics.

To protect the victim?s identity, most of the court details are not being disclosed; however, Miller did talk about certain aspects of the case following the verdict.

?I believe my staff did a good job?from the initial interviews through (executing) the search warrant,? he said.

Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning was also called to testify in the case.

?I assisted SRS with the victim?s interview,? he said. ?I am glad it?s over with.?

Kinning said he will be getting ready for another one of these types of trials in the next month, having just finished seeing Randy Herbel of Hillsboro convicted of rape and aggravated indecent liberties with a child in late July.

Herbel?s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9.

?We also have two other under investigation and all similar to these last two,? he said.

Kinning said he believes that one of the reasons these sexual assault cases are almost consecutive is that it takes so long to bring them to trial.

?Smyser?s case took one and one-half years from arrest to trial and Herbel was about three years,? he said.

If there is any positive side to the recent convictions of sexual predators in Marion County, Kinning said it?s in reporting.

?Part of it,? he said, ?is that more people are trained to know what to look for.

?Teachers, EMS, police (and some other agencies) are all mandatory reporters and children are better educated on what and how to report (sexual misconduct).?

One thing that both Miller and Kinning agreed on was that they both are glad to be getting these cases behind them.

No date has yet been scheduled for sentencing.

?The jury?s outcome was the right one, finding Smyser guilty,? Miller said.

 

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