- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri man charged with a sexual crime against a child asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to bar prosecutors from citing past allegations of sexual misconduct against him at trial, arguing that a constitutional amendment allowing prosecutors to do so wasn’t in effect when the latest alleged crime occurred.

At issue is the amendment approved by voters in 2014 that allows previous allegations of criminal acts to be used against people facing sex-related charges involving minors, regardless of whether charges were pressed.

Kendrick Tipler’s attorney told the court that it can’t be retroactively applied for an alleged attack that occurred in 2013, but prosecutors say the amendment applies to the timing of the trial, not the alleged offense.

Tipler, 34, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child in 2005. He was initially charged with first-degree statutory rape, but he accepted the plea deal for a charge with less prison time, according to court documents.

Tipler is now charged for an alleged attempted sexual act against a child in 2013. After a trial in 2015 ended with a hung jury, the judge overseeing the case ruled that prosecutors could use Tipler’s past conviction as evidence in another trial.

His public defender, Leslie Hazel, told the Supreme Court during Tuesday’s hearing that she’s not challenging the constitutionality of the amendment. She argued that the amendment shouldn’t apply to crimes that allegedly occurred before the amendment took effect.

“Constitutional amendments cannot be applied in a way that will take away or impair rights which have vested before the amendment was enacted,” Hazel told the judges.

Assistant Attorney General Greg Goodwin said the amendment applies to trials that occur after the amendment took effect, which would include Tipler’s 2013 case.

“It’s evidence that helps give the jury the complete picture of the defendant,” Goodwin said, noting that the amendment had strong voter support when it was approved. “This is a situation where the people have decided they want that complete picture.”

Goodwin said the amendment changed how evidence is handled in court, which he said is a procedural change and not a change that impacted Tipler’s rights.

The judges didn’t immediately rule on the case, nor did they indicate when they might rule.

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