Archive for Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Local man resentenced for role in rape

December 14, 2005

Two men originally given 60 days in jail for the statutory rape of an intoxicated 13-year-old Lawrence girl were ordered to prison last week.

Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin handed down new sentences to Brian K. Ussery, Tonganoxie, and William N. Haney, Lawrence, after a higher court's finding earlier this year that her initial sentences were too lenient.

The judge ordered Haney to serve 82 months in prison and Ussery to serve 65 months. The defendants' friends and family members hugged each other and sobbed after Martin issued her decision.

The victim's mother said afterward she believed justice had been served.

"The weight off my chest is just amazing," she said. "I'm satisfied with the new sentences."

Martin sparked controversy in early 2004 by giving the men probation, community service and 60 days in jail for the June 2003 rapes. Her original sentence was a departure from state sentencing guidelines, which carry a minimum penalty of nearly 13 years for rape unless a judge finds "substantial and compelling reasons" to give a lighter sentence.

Earlier this year, the Kansas Court of Appeals found Martin's original sentence was too lenient and ordered the men to be resentenced. Martin's new sentences were consistent with the higher court's recommendations.

Both Haney and Ussery were age 18 at the time of the rape, which occurred at a central Lawrence apartment. Their sentencings in early 2004 led to a failed effort to vote Judge Martin off the bench in last year's retention election.

Earlier this year, Haney was sent to prison for a series of probation violations. Ussery's case was different from Haney's because, according to his attorney, Michael Clarke, he has been a model probation client.

But Brandon Jones, assistant district attorney, said regardless how Ussery did on probation, the crime called for a prison sentence.

"There are some crimes, judge, that the state just does not feel are worthy of probation," Jones said. "That one night destroyed a girl's life."

A 17-year-old male and a 28-year-old Lawrence man also were charged with having sex with the girl.

The 17-year-old, Dana S. Jackson, was sentenced to 30 months in a juvenile corrections facility. The other man, Michael J. Rayton, now 30, received probation after he entered a plea to aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

But Rayton now faces an allegation that he isn't living up to terms of his probation, and Martin will decide in coming weeks whether to send him to prison.

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