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Judge’s decision reversed in identity case

POSTED February 14, 2017 11:57 a.m.

The Kansas Court of Appeals has reversed a district court judge’s decision to set aside the identity theft conviction of a Barton County resident, County Attorney Amy Mellor reported Tuesday.
Following a jury trial, Melissa Valles was convicted of illegally using the Social Security number of a Colorado resident to obtain employment at several Great Bend businesses. However, the judge who heard the case granted a motion to arrest judgement, essentially ruling that the court did not have jurisdiction over the case.
The Barton County Attorney’s office appealed that decision, and the Court of Appeals agreed that the trial judge was incorrect in his decision.
Arguing the State’s case to the three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals, then-County Attorney Doug Matthews contended that a change in the law allowed the case to continue even though the language used in the complaint to charge Valles was technically incorrect.
The judges on the Court agreed, holding that the complaint was sufficient since it alleged facts that, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt, would show that Valles had committed a crime in Kansas. Because Valles understood the charges being brought against her, she was able to present a defense, even though that defense was unsuccessful.
The Court of Appeals Appeal concluded that the trail judge erred by granting the motion. The case will now be returned to Barton County for sentencing before a different judge.
Agencies involved in the original investigation were the Barton County Sheriff’s Office and the Inspector General’s Office of the Social Security Administration. Amy Mellor prosecuted the case for the Barton County Attorney’s Office ad Douglas Matthews filed the appeal and argued the case to the Court of Appeals.

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