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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Denmark-Wagner charges counsel inadequate in 2008

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  • District Court Judge Frank Meisenheimer will consider evidence that a man convicted of a November 2008 murder in Pratt had ineffective counsel in that case.
    Charles Denmark-Wagner was back in Pratt Thursday in Pratt County District Court to plead his case against Sarah Sweet-McKinnon who was his attorney during the murder case.
    Denmark-Wagner made several claims to the court that Sweet-McKinnon had been ineffective counsel on several points during the murder case including failure to move for suppression of evidence, failure to investigate conflicting evidence given by Daniel Riendeau who also pleaded guilty in a plea bargain, failure to argue that he pleaded while under the influence of the prescription drug trazadone and that he was misled by Sweet-McKinnon that if he accepted a plea bargain he would get 20 to life and at the end of the 20 years he could go before the parole board and he would be released because they would know he was innocent.
    He said he was told if he did not accept the plea agreement, he would get the death penalty. He also said he pleaded involuntarily but State denied it.
    Denmark-Wagner also said Sweet-McKinnon told members of his family the same thing causing them to pressure him into accepting the plea agreement. He was afraid Riendeau would testify against him.
    He said he was later told in prison from another inmate that Kansas doesn't have a death penalty. That is when he decided to take action.
    Meisenheimer read the claims and quickly denied all except the one that he may have been misled about the plea agreement.
    Denmark-Wagner took the stand and repeatedly said that Sweet-McKinnon told him he had to take the plea agreement or he would get the death penalty.
    Sweet-McKinnon took the stand and said she never discussed the death penalty because it was not on the table in this case. She also said she never discussed the death penalty with Denmark-Wagner's family.
    Meisenheimer said he would review the original case information and the current request and make a ruling at a later date.
    Representing Denmark-Wagner Thursday was appointed attorney John Beverlin while Assistant Attorney General Charles Klebe represented the state.
    Denmark-Wagner pled guilty to first degree murder February 2009 as part of a plea agreement in the murder of Alesia Dorris-Graham on Nov. 22, 2008 at 623 South High in Pratt.
    He entered a motion to withdraw his plea in March 2009. That motion was denied and he was sentenced to life.
    In the same case, Daniel Riendeau pleaded guilty to second degree intentional murder in a plea bargain in November 2009. He was sentenced to 22.5 years later that month.
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