Friday, October 24, 2014

Terrorism testimony prompts scolding

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 3/19/2014

TOPEKA — Kevin Jones didn’t convict anyone of any crimes in his testimony to the state Legislature, he said. He never used the name of a man who was charged in connection with an alleged terrorist attack attempt in Kansas, he said, but he did allude to him.

“[His name] was never used in committee. It was never used anywhere,” state Rep. Jones, R-Wellsville, said Wednesday.

TOPEKA — Kevin Jones didn’t convict anyone of any crimes in his testimony to the state Legislature, he said. He never used the name of a man who was charged in connection with an alleged terrorist attack attempt in Kansas, he said, but he did allude to him.

“[His name] was never used in committee. It was never used anywhere,” state Rep. Jones, R-Wellsville, said Wednesday.

Jones has been criticized for alluding to Terry Loewen, who was charged, but not yet convicted, for crimes related to a sting operation to stop a Dec. 13, 2013, terrorist attack at Mid-Continental Airport in Wichita. Dan Monnat, a Wichita defense attorney who is not involved with Loewen’s case, said Jones was overlooking the accused man’s presumed innocence, according to the Associated Press.

“I’m always disheartened when I hear American government officials ignoring our time-honored presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial,” Monnat said, according to the AP report. “None of us know anything about the Terry Loewen case. We only know the accusations of the government. Those accusations, as in any other case, must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The remarks in question came when Jones was speaking to the state Senate about House Bill 2463, which would expand the civil and criminal anti-terrorism statutes. The bill passed the House of Representatives Feb. 26 with a 123-0 vote. The bill now is in the hearing phase in the senate.

“A few years ago, we wouldn’t have maybe even been discussing a bill that takes civil action and forfeiture of property for acts of terror on Kansas property,” Jones told the Senate Judiciary Committee March 13, according to the AP. “This bill is being brought before you at this time in light of recent events that happened in Wichita where a man attempted to drive what he thought was a van loaded with explosives onto the tarmac at the Wichita airport with the intent to kill as many innocent people as possible. So this bill is very appropriate for right now.”

Jones said he never used the man’s name in his testimony, but understands he shouldn’t have alluded to him as though his guilt already was confirmed.

“Everyone knows in America, obviously, you are innocent until proven guilty,” Jones said. “It was never my intention to bring light to his trial or convict him or anything like that. That’s why I never used his name.”

He used the incident as reference for his testimony, Jones said, because several media outlets reported the story and the public already knew about the alleged incident.

“I didn’t use his name at all,” Jones said. “It was distasteful, and I understand that.”

Jones said he used the story line of Loewen’s case because it was an incident that happened in Kansas and was related to terrorism attacks. He was trying to explain to the Senate that a local terrorist attack is possible, Jones said, and Loewen’s case was the example that brought it home.

“I was trying to explain how it came to the forefront in Kansas,” he said.

Jones’ colleague, state Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, who serves on the judiciary committee and is a lawyer, was unavailable for comment.

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