A Carbondale man who attempted to sexually solicit who he thought was a 13-year-old-girl over the Internet received concurrent sentences Tuesday totaling five years in prison on three convictions.
Robert Starkebaum, 39, tearfully apologized for his crimes before Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild sentenced him to 34 months for electronic solicitation of a child and 61 months each for attempted aggravated rape and attempted aggravated sodomy. The sentences will be served at the same time.
Starkebaum was arrested in November 2007 after getting caught in an Internet sting operation by the Baldwin City Police Department. Last year he pleaded guilty to the charges.
“I can promise, in my lifetime, you’ll never see me in this courtroom ever again,” Starkebaum told Fairchild.
Fairchild granted a motion for downward departure in state sentencing guidelines on the solicitation conviction based on arguments by Starkebaum’s attorney, Sally Pokorny. She said electronic solicitation in the Starkebaum case carried a sentence 10 times what a conviction would have for soliciting an actual child in a park. She described that as “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Before the sentencing, Pokorny called several witnesses to testify on behalf of Starkebaum. Psychologist Robert W. Barnett conducted a mental examination on Starkebaum and described him as bipolar. Without medication, Starkebaum was prone to the extremes of depressive and manic emotions and was in the manic phase at the time of his arrest. Starkebaum said he had stopped taking medication because he thought he could “handle life.”
Starkebaum was also a patient of Samuel Bradshaw, a Veterans Affairs psychiatrist who was treating him for post-traumatic stress disorder. Starkebaum served in the Marine Corps during the Gulf War.
Bradshaw and Barnett both said they did not consider Starkebaum a danger to others as long as he is on medication. They also said they saw no evidence that Starkebaum had a history that would make him a sexual predator.