A Manhattan man police accuse of child sex crimes appeared for a motions hearing in Riley County District Court Tuesday, now looking to a January 9 pretrial proceeding as his next court date.
Vincent Meeks Jr. is charged with 10 criminal counts in total that include rape, aggravated indecent liberties with a child as well as solicitation of minors. Police say Meeks sexually assaulted at least three different minors between the ages of 14 and 15, also facing additional charges of witness intimidation.
A key piece of evidence presented by the prosecution in the case will be Meeks’ interview with Riley County police from September 10, 2021 – the day he was arrested. Detective Brian Zachery testified before Judge Kendra Lewison Tuesday to the nature of his interaction with Meeks following his arrest, with Lewison finding it to be voluntary and admissible into evidence.
The remainder of the hearing focused on motions filed by the State via Deputy County Attorney Bethany Fields and Meeks’ defense counsel Cole Hawver. While motions such as to allow Meeks to appear in street clothes during the trial were uncontested, not all motions went without objection.
Among her rulings, Judge Lewison denied motions by the Fields to allow into evidence testimony about untried allegations against Meeks of domestic violence and sexual relationships with an individual under 18 but over 16 that Fields says speaks to his propensity for the charges he’s facing. Lewison, though, did grant a motion to permit testimony from that individual about their allegations of a sexual relationship with Meeks prior to the age of 16 – the legal age of consent in Kansas.
Hawver further moved to have the term ‘victim’ not allowed in the courtroom, saying the term is loaded and potentially prejudices the jury – adding that it’s the jury’s providence to decide if there was a victim at all. Lewison told both parties her expectation is to refer to people by their names in the courtroom, using first names only rather than initials for child witnesses – though didn’t believe the term coming up would lead to a mistrial.
Hawver had a final motion denied, in which he was requesting the State procure records stemming from a separate case involving an alleged victim in this case out of Pottawatomie County. He was unaware of the details of that case, records of which Fields also was unfamiliar with, though said there remains the potential that exculpatory evidence may exist in case records. Lewison denied the motion, saying she does not believe she has the authority to compel the prosecution to do so.
Meeks returns to court via Zoom on January 9 for a pretrial hearing before Judge Lewison.