KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- For the first time in more than a decade -- Wyandotte County will get a new district attorney.
Minister and lawyer Mark Dupree, 34, unseated DA Jerry Gorman in Tuesday’s primary election by a nearly 20-percentage point vote margin.
No republican ran, so Dupree will take over as DA in January. FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien sat down with Dupree to talk about his direction for the county.
Dupree says he spent years out in the community preparing for this day. Community engagement is one thing that he will require of those under him - in what will be the new community prosecutor`s unit.
It is part of what he calls a proactive prosecutor`s office.
Dupree wants to develop a mental health diversion program, reconnect with the drug court and implement a veterans court.
He says these steps will make Wyandotte County safer. He practiced criminal defense law for eight years, with a quick stint in the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office. He says he’s ready for his new role.
“I won`t say that I was surprised, I think I will say excited,” Dupree said.
Dupree says he will pursue justice rather than convictions.
“History has shown that when folks get in office and try to pursue convictions rather than justice, mistakes are made. Wrong people are prosecuted,” he explained.
Dupree says he’s one of those people.
In 2001, the soon-to-be the top law enforcement officer in Wyandotte County was arrested in Merriam, Kan., for battery of a law enforcement officer, trespassing and obstruction. He was found guilty of the latter two charges.
“Absolutely, that`s true, I don`t disagree with that. Do I disagree that I should not have been found guilty? Absolutely,” he said.
"Then you get into a point, that this is the way the system is, and to say there are not flaws in the system would be ridiculous.”
Dupree is inheriting several high-profile, possibly death penalty cases, which Gorman is handling personally.
“I would be stepping outside of my bounds by speaking prematurely at this point about what cases I am going to get on, and what cases I am going to pass out without having all of the evidence and all of the information, and looking at the details of all of those cases,” he said.
Dupree was legally eligible to run for the district attorney's position, because his conviction, which was a misdemeanor -- was cleared from his record.