Archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Hearing set on new-trial request

April 25, 2001

An Overland Park handwriting expert will examine a document that the former mayor of Basehor considers crucial in his request for a new trial.

Leavenworth County District Judge Frederick Stewart ruled last week that Richard Fahy can examine the signature on a document.

Fahy is retired from the Johnson County Crime Lab and is a former Topeka police officer. He does private consulting work.

In the document, Charles Opie Jones, a prosecution witness, allegedly recants his claims that he and two other men had repeated sexual contact with John Pfannenstiel, the former mayor of Basehor. Pfannenstiel was a guard at Lansing Correctional Facility, and the three men were inmates in Pfannenstiel's unit.

Last month, a jury convicted Pfannenstiel on three felony sex charges.

Terry Lober, Pfannenstiel's attorney, maintains that had jurors seen the document, they would have found Pfannenstiel not guilty.

"He signed it shortly after the preliminary hearing," Lober said in a recent interview. "When we put him on the witness stand, he declined to acknowledge the signature. It is our position that he did, in fact, sign it."

But prosecutors have said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation has examined the document.

"They had it, they examined it, and they said it was inconclusive as to who the author was," said Roger Marrs, deputy county attorney.

A court hearing is set for May 11 on whether Pfannenstiel should be granted a new trial.

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