Supreme Court upholds 2018 murder, rape convictions of Valley Center man
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas Supreme Court upheld Sedgwick County’s first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery and rape convictions of Jeff Hillard of Valley Center. Hillard, along with his wife Heidi Hillard, was convicted in 2018 of a crime that occurred in 2016.
The couple kidnapped Scottie Goodpaster over an alleged $185 debt owed for methamphetamine. The 33-year-old Goodpaster was attacked with an ax, knife and staple gun. Jumper cables were attached to his genitals. His body was found hanging from a tree in Harvey County. Jeff Hillard was also convicted for the rape of Goodpaster’s girlfriend. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years.
On appeal, Hillard argued that the district court erred by declining to suppress evidence obtained from his cell phone and his home surveillance system, by admitting transcripts of audio recordings taken from his cell phone, as well as an enhanced version of one of those recordings, and by incorrectly instructing the jury on the elements of his charged offenses and the proper venue for his trial. Hillard also argued there was insufficient evidence to support any of his convictions.
In a unanimous decision written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Court ruled there was insufficient evidence to support Hillard’s conviction for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. The Court reversed that conviction and vacated the accompanying sentence. The Court rejected Hillard’s other claims of error and affirmed his remaining convictions and sentence for first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery, and rape.
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