Judge denies motion to disqualify Kagay from prosecuting Watkins voter fraud case

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 5:14 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Shawnee County District Court Judge has denied a motion to remove District Attorney Mike Kagay from prosecuting Rep. Steve Watkins voter fraud case.

The ruling came down this week from Judge David Debenham saying there was no evidence showing Kagay had an “ax to grind” against Watkins.

Watkins faces criminal charges that he unlawfully voted in a 2019 Topeka City Council election and lied to a detective investigating the case.

According to the original motion filed, Watkins claimed the charges are politically motivated. The motion also claimed Kagay and Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner, who was opposing Watkins in the Congressional primary, shared consultants, which shows a conflict of interest in the case.

Watkins lost his race in the Primary to LaTurner.

“The evidence before the Court fails to establish a conflict of interest so grave as to render it unlikely that the Defendant would receive fair treatment during his criminal proceedings,” the ruling document said.

Kagay filed four counts against Watkins: Interference with Law Enforcement, Providing False Information; Voting without being Qualified; Unlawful Advance Voting; and Failing to Notify the DMV of Change of Address. The first three are felonies, while the last is a misdemeanor. The charges of interference and unlawful advance voting carry sentences of 5 to 17 months in prison if convicted, while voting with being qualified carries a sentence of anywhere from 11 to 34 months.

Watkins is set to be back in court for an assignment docket hearing on December 3rd at 3:30p.m.

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