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Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rose gets 10-year sentence

Victims, their relatives question if punishment is adequate

June 19, 2007

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Jason Allen Rose walks out of court Monday morning after receiving a 122-month sentence for the October 2005 fire at Boardwalk Apartments in the 500 block of Fireside Drive. Three people were killed in the fire, and 17 others were injured.

Jason Allen Rose walks out of court Monday morning after receiving a 122-month sentence for the October 2005 fire at Boardwalk Apartments in the 500 block of Fireside Drive. Three people were killed in the fire, and 17 others were injured.

Jason Rose sentenced for Boardwalk Fire

He was convicted of killing three people by setting one of the worst fires in the city's history - yet Jason Rose could be out of prison as soon as seven years from now. Enlarge video

Rose sentencing: DA Charles Branson

Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson talks about the sentence given to Jason Allen Rose Monday morning. Enlarge video

Rose sentencing: Nancy Bingham, mother of Nicole Bingham

Nancy Bingham, mother of Nicole Bingham who was killed in the Boardwalk Apartments fire, reacts to the sentencing of Jason Allen Rose. Enlarge video

Knowing that her brother lived his life with no regrets gives Maria Gonzalez and her family comfort when she thinks of the apartment fire that took his life.

It is that same thought that she hopes will ease her pain in the days following the sentencing of the man convicted of setting Boardwalk Apartments on fire in October 2005.

"He was my best friend," Gonzalez said of her brother, Jose Gonzalez. "Even though we have to move on, it's not something that we can overcome in a day."

Jason Allen Rose, 21, was sentenced Monday to 10 years and two months in prison, the maximum sentence he could have received for three counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of aggravated arson and seven counts of aggravated battery.

Rose's prison term could have been much longer, but Kansas law does not allow a person charged and convicted of multiple crimes to serve more than double the sentence of the most serious offense.

"You take a look at the most serious charge," District Attorney Charles Branson said, "and that becomes your primary charge for sentencing purposes."

Emotional comments

Rose was convicted May 11 of setting the fire that killed Nicole Bingham, Yolanda Riddle and Jose Gonzalez and injured 17 people, but the jury stopped short of convicting him of first-degree murder.

Like other family and friends of the victims, Maria Gonzalez said she thinks the jury's decision wasn't harsh enough.

"I find no peace that his life meant nothing to you," Maria Gonzalez said during a series of emotional statements made by her, then Nancy Bingham, mother of Nicole, and Leigh McHatton, who survived the blaze.

"(Jose) meant the world to me and my family," Gonzalez said, trembling. "As for you, Jason Rose, may God forgive you for what you have done."

McHatton also provided a statement.

"Our wounds and the wounds of our families are a constant reminder of what has taken place," she said.

The Kansas University graduate suffered third-degree burns to her hands and feet and now lives in Denver, where she works as an advocate for people with disabilities.

No expression from Rose

Throughout the statements and the ruling made by District Judge Jack Murphy, Rose appeared vacant, expressing little emotion. He declined to make a statement as the hearing drew to a close.

A former foster child who had a troubled childhood, Rose had moved out on his own to Boardwalk Apartments just weeks before the fire was set at the apartment complex in the 500 block of Fireside Drive.

With time already served and the possibility of a 15 percent reduction in the sentence for good behavior, the time Rose will serve could be about eight or nine years, Branson said.

In his comments to Rose, Murphy wondered how the tragedy could have been lessened.

"While I'm not saying this to lessen your responsibility : I don't recall one person say, 'I heard a fire alarm or a smoke alarm,'" the judge said. "Likewise, there was one issue regarding the delay in response to the fire by the fire department. That question was unanswered (in the trial)."

Upon release from prison, Rose will undergo a three-year supervisory period. Following Rose's departure from the courtroom, his attorney, Ron Evans, was busy signing paperwork to appeal.

Evans declined further comment.

A mother's lament

Taking the stand to make her statement, Nancy Bingham told the judge she wanted everyone to know who Nicole really was. She read her thoughts from pages covered with her 22-year-old daughter's pictures.

"I felt that the trial had the victims just as statistics; they weren't really people," she said.

During the trial, the only pictures jurors were permitted to see of the victims were of their charred remains.

"My daughter's life was significant and I want you to know her," said Bingham, who left the courtroom uncertain of the judge's sentencing ruling.

"They got the maximum sentence that they could get," she said. "Because I didn't really have any expectations, I can't really say that I was surprised. I think it makes sense that the judge would give him the maximum, just because of the severity of the damage."

Telling others about Nicole gives Bingham some solace in coming to terms with her daughter's death.

"Moms are supposed to protect their children and not let anything happen to them," she said. "In reality, that is not always possible."

In her final remarks, she spoke of a conversation she had with Nicole a year before the blaze.

"Mom, you can never die," Nicole told her mother. "No, no. You can never die. I couldn't take care of myself."

Bingham paused, looking up from her notes.

"I don't know if I can take care of myself, either," Bingham told the court. "I would never want her to feel this."

The victims

The October 2005 fire at Boardwalk Apartments killed Kansas University student Nicole Bingham, electrician Jose Gonzalez and social worker Yolanda Riddle.

The fire also injured 17 other residents of the apartment complex in the 500 block of Fireside Drive.

In May, Jason Allen Rose - who had lived in the apartment complex - was convicted setting the blaze. He received a 10-year sentence Monday.

Comments

beerdrinkingfool 7 years, 3 months ago

you know if the jury should of done the real charges of murder. he knew what he was doing if not knowing what it would do to people.i see his point but if you want to set a fire do it in a wood and give people a chance to run . he never gave them that chance , and knew people lived there then that is murder. He showed no feeling cause he got off light . 10 years nice should be 60 years no chance of parole .

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pissedinlawrence 7 years, 3 months ago

Jason is not guilty!! We love you Jason. We will be throwing you a party when you come home. Stay strong through all these lies.

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aquakej 7 years, 3 months ago

I wonder what civil suits will be brought forth now that the Rose deal is done. The fact that this place was "a death trap" is the fault of Boarwalk Apartments. They shouldn't have had such a flammable apartment complex in the first place. Why did no fire alarms go off? NO fire alarms went off. EVER. If there had been working fire alarms, perhaps everyone would have woken up and gotten out. Yolanda and Mr. Gonzalez were most likely killed in their sleep. Fire alarms might have saved their lives.

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jayhawk1980 7 years, 3 months ago

pissedinlawrence: Rose was found guilty in a court of law. Please explain your statement that he is not guilty.

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m1983 7 years, 3 months ago

pissedinlawrence get your freakin head out of the sand.

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Ragingbear 7 years, 3 months ago

Actually, it was less of the alarms not sounding and more of the entire block being consumed in a matter of minutes. Most people would call it a Flash Fire.

Those other buildings there should be torn down. We know that it is only a matter of time before something gets into the rampant dry-rot there and cause another incident that may, or may not be arson.

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Confrontation 7 years, 3 months ago

This punk will get out of jail and kill many more people. This was only his practice round. He should be locked up for life, considering he killed three people. They better find a way to separate him from all other humans when he's released. He's a nutcase, and he should be treated as such.

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Eride 7 years, 3 months ago

" beerdrinkingfool (Anonymous) says:

you know if the jury should of done the real charges of murder. he knew what he was doing if not knowing what it would do to people.i see his point but if you want to set a fire do it in a wood and give people a chance to run . he never gave them that chance , and knew people lived there then that is murder. He showed no feeling cause he got off light . 10 years nice should be 60 years no chance of parole . "

This post fits your user name well. Not only could I BARELY understand what you wrote due to your horrendously sentence structure and grammar what I could understand was ridiculous. How do you figure that you are in any position to judge the outcome of this trail more so then the jury. You know next to nothing about the facts surrounding this case. You are in no position to declare that the defendant should of been convicted of 1st Degree murder... Nor are you in a position to declare the defendants state of mind at the time of the incident nor his intentions.

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stuckinthemiddle 7 years, 3 months ago

I can't find enough absolutes in all this to have any kind of a cut-and-dried opinion as to what should happen to Jason Rose or what he might do if he is free again, 7 or ten years from now. I've read all the news I could find on this case and there seems to be a lot of conflicting information and issues. One thing that I am certain of is that the only person who knows what was going on in Rose's mind at the time the fire was started is Rose, himself.

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Bitter 7 years, 3 months ago

I posted on yesterday's comments as well...........

The 4 Haskell guys who went knocking on doors that night need to be commended!

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Ragingbear 7 years, 3 months ago

Confrontation, I found out that Rose spent a large portion of his time while he was in jail in solitary. Not for his behavior, but that every time an inmate got a chance, they would pound him. Turns out that almost everyone in Lawrence knew somebody that was a victim or was a victim themselves.

I would be interested to know if he will have to maintain a solitary imprisonment due to the same reasons. Remember, in jail you get punched. In prison you get stabbed 20 times with a shiv.

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aquakej 7 years, 3 months ago

This was a hard case to reach a verdict on. I was on the first jury, and didn't get to see the end of the trial, due to the fact that they called a mistrial on us. However, I did see the complete prosecution's case, and I had lots of reasonable doubt. I can't imagine the defense would have done anything to remove that reasonable doubt, but perhaps I am wrong. I wish I could have seen the rest of the trial. I think he probably did it, but would not have felt comfortable delivering a guilty verdit, due to the "reasonable doubt" I had.

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Confrontation 7 years, 3 months ago

Ragingbear: I think he should be in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. Afterall, he gets to keep his life. Three others did not.

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Bitter 7 years, 3 months ago

aquakej, you are probably one of the only one who gets the verdict then! Others here just babble on and on about what they think should have happened because they read the paper about it. Yes, some of you escaped the fire. Thank God you did. But in court....you have to take the evidence that is admitted and only the evidence and the witnesses. The tape of Jason was most damning but it did leave questions. He admitted to it then denied it. It was kind of like a bad high school girl fight. She said, he said, I did it, no I didn't do it annoying kind of thing.

m1983 too knows all of what was presented but m.....you know /we know how emotionally attached you are.

Same as Mr. Barbari. He among others, also sat through everything. Somehow he made a statement that there's no way Jason could have done it. Really? Not even a chance of it? Really?

For those of you screaming 1st degree murder...........how? Did the prosecution prove that Jason went home, thought hmmmm, I'm going to go burn down this building and kill people! No they didn't. Could he have thought that? Yes! Did they prove that? No.

I do think Jason needs professional help. Help he won't get in prison. I also think he should be locked up for way more than 8 years.

And by the way Ragingbear........I was reading Barack Obama's book during selection

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m1983 7 years, 3 months ago

doesn't change who started the fire.

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pissedinlawrence 7 years, 3 months ago

Thank you smitty. People didnt know Jason but are quick to want the worst for him. He is mentally slow. Jason was just a scapegoat... read more into how the judge put some blame on the fire department. almost 5 min. to get to the fire when it was only a few blocks away...?? Those factors DO matter.

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