Dan Gukeisen loses appealArizona court upholds former state’s attorney's manslaughter conviction.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
PHOENIX — A former Davison County state’s attorney sentenced to five years in prison for the stabbing death of a 22-year-old college student in Arizona has lost his appeal.
Daniel Gukeisen, 41, a Plankinton native, was convicted of manslaughter last year for stabbing Garrett Hohn, an Arizona State University student, on Sept. 26, 2008, during an altercation outside Gukeisen’s residence in Tempe, Ariz. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
Hohn was walking past Gukeisen’s condo with a friend in the early morning hours when Gukeisen confronted them. Hohn was later found with a stab wound and died at the hospital.
Gukeisen appealed the conviction and five-year sentence by alleging misconduct by the prosecution and claiming there was insufficient evidence to find he was not acting in self-defense by stabbing Hohn.
A Dec. 11 decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals, says Gukeisen claims he was justified in the stabbing because the fight was two against one: Hohn and his friend were younger and stronger; Hohn and his friend started the fight; and either Hohn or his friend hit Gukeisen’s brother in the head with a rock.
The appellate court rejected Gukeisen’s claim and found there was enough evidence to support the conviction.
When interviewed by the police, Gukeisen made no self-defense claim, but instead denied having a weapon at all.
“This denial could reasonably be considered as evidence of consciousness of guilt that the stabbing was not justified,” the decision says.
Gukeisen also admitted to police that “he knew use of deadly force would not have been appropriate in the situation,” the decision says.
Gukeisen’s claim of misconduct by the prosecution was also rejected by the appellate court.
During closing arguments of the trial, a prosecutor claimed Gukeisen couldn’t argue he didn’t stab Hohn and at the same time argue that if he did stab him, it was in self-defense.
“You can’t have both,” the prosecutor said, as quoted in the decision. “You don’t get to make that kind of argument, although that’s what they’ve done here.”
Gukeisen claims the prosecutor’s argument was a “misstatement of law,” but the decision says the trial court instructed jurors that Gukeisen was able to use both defenses.
That instruction, the appellate court found, was “sufficient to remedy any possible juror confusion caused by the prosecutor’s rebuttal argument regarding the alternative defenses.”
In a case unrelated to the appeal, Gukeisen was sentenced to six and a half years in prison last December on aggravated assault and kidnapping charges for attacking a 74-year-old process server who brought papers to Gukeisen’s home.
The six and a half years will be served concurrently with the five-year manslaughter sentence.
Gukeisen was appointed and served briefly as Davison County state’s attorney before forgoing a re-election bid in 1998.
Most recently, Gukeisen was working as a bankruptcy lawyer in Arizona.