The Kansas Court of Appeals today rejected Douglas County Judge Paula Martin's sentences of two men in the rape of a 13-year-old girl, saying the judge was too lenient.
"We vacate the sentence and remand to the district court for resentencing proportionate to the severity of the offense committed," the court said in the two cases.
In stern tones, the court said Martin abused her judicial discretion and committed errors in the sentencing of William Haney and Brian Ussery.
The two men were convicted of rape in the 2003 incident.
Judge Paula Martin
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Facing approximately 13 years in prison each, Martin departed downward from the state sentencing guidelines, sentencing each to five years probation.
The decision caused an uproar, prompting an effort to oust Martin in November's retention election. That effort failed.
Martin said one of the reasons she departed downward was that a 17-year-old co-defendant, and the primary instigator of the crime, had been sentenced to 30 months in a juvenile facility.
Haney and Ussery were 18 at the time, and were tried as adults.
But the appeals court said it was impermissible for Martin to consider the juvenile co-defendant's sentence when departing downward on the 18-year-olds' sentences.
Martin also said the harm to the victim was not as great because there was less disparity in age with the defendants. The appeals court rejected that, saying "This reasoning is totally flawed."
Martin also said the victim may have been a willing participant in the incident.
But the appeals court said there is no evidence to suggest that is true. Still, the appeals court declined to weigh in on that matter because it said for an inexplicable reason, the state, in its appeal of Martin's sentences, failed to provide a transcript of the trial to the appeals court.
In conclusion, the court said in the two cases, "We conclude no reasonable person would have departed from the presumptive sentence to such an extent when considering only the valid departure factors stated within."
Martin's sentences, the appeals court said, "constituted an abuse of judicial discretion."