Archive for Sunday, March 18, 2007

Woman placed on probation after bar fight with officer

March 18, 2007

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— A woman who caused permanent injury to a Hutchinson police officer during a bar fight last year apologized profusely in a courtroom where she received a sentence that won't include prison time.

Ramona Almanza, 50, faced a mandatory four-year, 11-month prison term for her guilty plea to a charge of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer.

But Reno County District Judge Tim Chambers on Friday followed an agreement between prosecutors and the defense in departing from sentencing guidelines based on mental impairment. He placed Almanza on probation, with a jail sentence possible under certain conditions.

Almanza was charged for an April 2006 incident in which she got into an altercation with several people at a bar. Two women were battered, a third suffered broken ribs and former Hutchinson Officer Sam Casey was kicked in the groin as he tried to subdue Almanza.

Casey, now a probation officer, told the court he is still undergoing specialized treatment for injuries he said have "permanently disabled" him. Court records did not document the extent of his injuries.

"I just wanted to say I was not even aware of my actions that night until my attorney told me," Almanza told Chambers, fighting to retain her composure. "I was devastated by that.

"I've never done anything like that in my life," she added. "I'm sorry for the people I hurt, particularly the officer."

Almanza's attorney, Frank Meisenheimer, submitted letters from her psychologist and another mental health professional that noted she'd been undergoing treatment for 10 years for depression and mood and anxiety disorders.

Chambers, who struggled with not ordering some prison time, placed Almanza on three years' probation and ordered her to pay restitution in an amount to be determined.

He also sentenced Almanza to serve 45 days in the county jail, but stayed execution of the sentence pending her therapist issuing an opinion on whether it would harm Almanza's mental health.

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