A man was charged Thursday in Douglas County District Court with allegedly attempting to have someone killed — a charge that comes two and a half months after a jail cell search that the man’s defense attorney says violated his client’s constitutional rights.
Darren Henry, 28, has been in custody of the jail since June 2020, held on charges of aggravated robbery, interference with law enforcement, and criminal possession of a firearm. The charges stem from an armed robbery reported at a Lawrence convenience store in September 2017.
The charges against Henry have moved through the judicial system slowly but steadily, including common procedural challenges made to remove suspect statements made prior to reading Miranda rights and questions regarding the validity of suspect identification. There have also been delays brought on by clashes between Henry and his original defense attorney and staffing changes in the district attorney’s office.
By August 2021, however, witnesses were subpoenaed and the case appeared to be headed for jury trial in January 2022.
But on Nov. 17, 2021, Lawrence police armed with a search warrant based on information provided by a jailhouse informant went to the Douglas County jail and searched Henry’s cell and his property bag, according to filings by defense attorney Adam Hall. Hall alleges that investigators seized a stack of legal documents that contained attorney-client communications and work product from Henry’s pending criminal cases.
The search warrant, filed by LPD Detective Kimberlee Nicholson and signed by Judge Mark Simpson, states that police were seeking “unredacted discovery paperwork” related to the robbery investigation. They also sought documentation including any personal information about an individual whose name was redacted, and documents containing information about anyone related to that person.
Hall wrote that police and the district attorney’s office were investigating the crime of solicitation, “which the Police and DA believe has been facilitated by personal identifying information allegedly contained in the seized materials.”
Hall wrote that the search warrant had no protocol in place regarding what could be taken from Henry’s possessions, nor were there limitations placed on seizure of attorney-client communications.
Because neither Henry nor Hall could specifically identify exactly what was seized, Hall requested that the search of all documents stop, and he asked that officials produce body camera footage and jail video surveillance to identify what had been taken.
Hall wrote that the seizure violated Henry’s constitutional right to freedom of speech as well as his right to assistance of counsel, stating that the “blanket intrusion” impeded Henry’s ability to prepare for trial and jeopardized the confidentiality of attorney-client communications.
In a response filed on Dec. 10, Douglas County Senior Assistant District Attorney David Greenwald argued that the information seized from the cell pertained to an “ongoing criminal investigation” into a felony committed by Henry. He said that disclosing the information would interfere with law enforcement and might also reveal the identity of a confidential source.
Because of the number of unresolved motions related to the case, on Dec. 28 Hall asked the court to postpone the jury trial, which had been scheduled to begin Jan. 18.
It was unclear as of Friday afternoon whether a judge had made any rulings related to these motions.
On Jan. 31, Greenwald filed the new charges against Henry. The complaint alleges that on June 1, 2021, and Oct. 18, 2021, Henry solicited the intentional and premeditated killing of another person. Henry was formally charged Thursday afternoon with the level-3 felony.
Hall was listed as the first witness on the complaint, and on Thursday he was appointed to represent Henry in the new case as well, according to court records. However, court records also indicate that Greenwald has filed a motion under seal to remove Hall as defense counsel from Henry’s robbery case, alleging that Hall had violated Kansas statutes by providing Henry with unredacted court documents containing personal information about a witness.
Henry remains in the Douglas County jail held on a $150,000 cash or surety bond in the new case. His next court date is set for Monday, Feb. 14.
Hall did not respond to messages seeking comment for this article.
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Andrea Albright (she/her), reporter, can be reached at aalbright (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.