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Archive for Friday, May 1, 1998

RAPE BRINGS PRISON SENTENCE

May 1, 1998

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A convicted rapist will spend at least four years in prison for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

A 22-year-old Lawrence ex-con is going back to prison, this time for having sex with a 13-year-old girl a day after being released from custody.

Tyrone Edwards faced up to 28 years in prison for having sex with the girl, but instead was sentenced to 5 years in prison Thursday.

Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin's decision to grant the reduced sentence drew mixed reactions from prosecutors and rape-victim supporters, who were pleased Edwards wasn't allowed to dodge a prison sentence in favor of probation.

Edwards will be credited for the 358 days he has been in custody since his May 1997 arrest. He also could receive a 15 percent reduction for good behavior in prison.

Once released, he will be required to register as a sex offender, letting authorities in any Kansas city where he presides know of his status.

``I was surprised the departure (from sentencing guidelines) was so extreme, given the fact the Legislature has considered this to be a Level One felony rape charge and given his criminal history,'' Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich said.

Prosecutors anticipated Martin's decision. At an April 9 hearing, Martin granted defense attorney Jim Rumsey's request for the reduced sentence.And Martin ordered community corrections employees to draw up a probation plan for Edwards.

On Thursday, Martin ordered the prison sentence instead, followed by a three-year probation period.

Sarah Jane Russell, executive director of the Douglas County Rape Victim-Survivor Service, said the sentence pleased her, given the alternative of probation.

``I have to admit, that did raise some alarms for us,'' Russell said about the community corrections plan ordered by Martin.

Edwards had been released from the Lansing Correctional Facility on May 6, the day before meeting the 13-year-old victim. He had been serving a one-year sentence for theft and disorderly conduct.

Rumsey said Edwards would comply with any restrictions outlined in a probation agreement, and that he was interested in anger management classes, and drug and alcohol counseling.

Before imposing the sentence, Martin allowed Edwards to make a statement.

``I'd like to apologize to the court for my actions after my conviction. That's all I have to say at this point,'' he said, referring to his reaction when the jury convicted him on Sept. 25.

Deputies had to restrain Edwards and sprayed him with Mace after he overturned a table and threw a chair as the jury watched.

Prosecutor John Wilcox cited Edwards' past criminal history, which includes theft, attempted robbery, and an arrest for a lewd and lascivious act.

``If this court lets him walk out today, the community will be at risk, the community will be in danger,'' Wilcox said.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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