SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appeals has overturned part of the conviction of a man dubbed as the leader of a group of "polygamist ninjas" involved in a bizarre murder plot.
In a ruling published Saturday, the state appeals court vacated one count of rape against Kain Blackwing. However, the three-judge panel left intact the remaining convictions.
Blackwing, 51, faced numerous counts of sexual assault and was even implicated in an attempted kidnapping and murder plot against a 14-year-old girl who was planning to testify against him in 2014, according to court documents. Police said a pair of women dressed as "ninjas" and carrying a knife, tun gun, a tourniquet and syringes along with a chemical intended to render someone unconscious when they broke into the home.
The women were apprehended during the break-in by a man with a samurai sword, police wrote in court documents. The women later told police they were Blackwing's polygamous wives and had been instructed to kill the girl, prosecutors alleged in charging documents.
Blackwing referred to himself as a "Shen Lord" according to the Utah Court of Appeals opinion, recounting the rape counts he was appealing. In 2013, a 17-year-old girl began "martial arts and survival training... under the tutelage of Blackwing, a man in his forties."
"Most of the training took place at Blackwing’s house. The training began in a small group, but gradually it became one-on-one and increased in frequency. As T.S. began spending more time with Blackwing, he taught her about 'Shen living,' telling her that he was 'a Shen lord' and that 'Shen can have multiple women.' In fact, Blackwing had two putative wives, who called him 'My Lord.' After a few months of training, Blackwing told T.S. he knew she had feelings for him, and he reciprocated those feelings. They kissed," Judge Kate Appleby wrote.
The relationship escalated to a sexual one and a year later, child welfare caseworkers became involved.
"One day in April 2014, while T.S. was at school, Blackwing called to tell her that the police raided his house and to warn her that an officer was going to the school to talk to her. Blackwing warned T.S. not to 'betray' him and 'reminded [her] that there was nothing going on,' that they 'weren’t doing anything wrong,' and that she 'had to watch what [she] said,'" Judge Appleby wrote.
The 17-year-old ultimately did disclose the relationship during an investigation into an unrelated case and Blackwing was charged with numerous counts of rape. In hearing Blackwing's appeal, the Utah Court of Appeals agreed to dismiss one count -- deciding that prosecutors failed to prove its burden that any sexual contact in one instance happened within the state.
"Although the State argues this is enough to create a reasonable inference that three acts of sexual intercourse occurred in Utah between April 1 and the time when DCFS raided the house, we disagree," Judge Appleby wrote.
The court did not consider the remaining issues of Blackwing's appeal, leaving the other six convictions intact.