A transient convicted of first-degree murder in the July 1988 slaying of a Lawrence boy was sentenced this morning to life imprisonment despite his claims that he is innocent of the crime.
Before he was sentenced, John William, 28, told Douglas County District Judge James Paddock that he did not murder the boy, Richard Settlemyre, and that law enforcement officers fabricated evidence that was used against him in court.
"I don't make up lies, your honor," William said. "I believe in The Book. I'll tell you one thing with my heart and soul. I did not kill Richard Settlemyre."
William said he considered his conviction "an unfair judgment" that he would appeal.
THE SENTENCE came after William's attorney, Ed Collister Jr., asked Paddock to commit his client to Larned State Security Hospital for further psychiatric treatment. Collister said Larned doctors testifying before and during the trial indicated that William was responding to treatment.
"The place for him to be is in Larned, being treated," Collister said.
Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jim Flory opposed Collister's idea, saying William poses a significant security risk both to hospital personnel and to society.
Before sentencing William, Paddock denied a defense motion for a new trial. In his written motion, filed in November, Collister claimed that the verdict "is contrary to the evidence and the law in this case" and said the state presented insufficient evidence to support a count of felony murder that also had been filed against William.
Collister stated that the court erred by refusing to suppress statements allegedly made by William. Collister also argued that the court should not have ruled William mentally competent to stand trial both before and during the trial.
TODAY, Collister reiterated his argument about the felony murder charge and said Flory prejudiced jurors with a comment about a "silent witness" he made during closing arguments of the trial. Collister argued that Flory was referring to William.
Flory denied the charge, saying he was referring to a notebook containing statements written by William.
In denying Collister's motion, Paddock said there was "no merit at all" in the defense attorney's argument.
William was charged July 15, 1988, with first-degree murder stemming from the death of Richard Settlemyre, 9, Lawrence.
The boy's mutilated and decapitated body was found July 14 floating in the Kansas River upstream from the Kansas Turnpike bridge.
A DOUGLAS County District Court jury convicted William of first-degree murder on Nov. 17, ending a trial that began 10 days earlier with jury selection.
On Aug. 12, 1988, Paddock ruled William mentally incompetent to stand trial and ordered him to the custody of Larned State Hospital. The judge reversed the ruling in November 1988 after Larned doctors reported that William had attained competency.
Paddock again ruled William incompetent March 9. Larned doctors reported in August of this year that William had again attained competency.
Paddock ruled William competent to stand trial Nov. 2, and jury selection in the trial began five days later.