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Second sentencing little different from first

12/3/2013

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

A WaKeeney man who appealed a jail sentence imposed earlier by a magistrate judge essentially was given the same sentence Monday by District Judge Ed Bouker.

At Monday's hearing in Ellis County District Court, Shane Hammond continued to proclaim his innocence in the Trego County case, even though he earlier agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in what is called an Alford Plea, often used to avoid being convicted on a more serious charge.

When an Alford Plea is used, a defendant isn't admitting guilt, but acknowledges prosecutors likely could prove the charge.

Hammond initially was charged in December 2011 with a felony charge of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The child was 4 years old at the time of the incident.

Earlier this summer, Hammond agreed to the Alford Plea on the single count of endangerment, a misdemeanor.

In August, District Magistrate Judge Richard Flax, based in WaKeeney, sentenced Hammond to a year in jail, to be reviewed after six months -- at which time he could have been placed on probation.

But Flax also imposed a year's probation, to run after Hammond fulfilled the sentence.

At Monday's hearing, Bouker handed down essentially the same sentence, an underlying term of a year in the county jail, with probation slated after he completes six months of the sentence and sex and alcohol evaluation. He then will serve a year's probation.

There actually isn't any difference in the sentence, other than in the way it was described.

After asking about the possibility of work-release for Hammond, attorney Julie McKenna broached the idea of appealing the sentence again, although she stopped short of doing that.

Bouker wasn't ready to grant work-release status until after Hammond was evaluated.

The Hammond case was the latest in a series of unrelated cases that have worked their way through the courts recently.

On Nov. 22, a sentencing hearing for Clinton Snavely, 49, was advanced.

As laid out under the terms of the plea agreement, he was sentenced to 188 months -- nearly 16 years -- in prison.

He pleaded guilty in early November to three of 14 charges pending against him.

Because the pre-sentence investigation came back as expected, none of the terms of the plea agreement were changed.

In exchange for his plea, the remaining 11 counts were dismissed and Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees won't be able to file additional charges in the case.

His wife, Beverly Snavely, already has been sentenced to 32 months in prison under the terms of a plea agreement she reached with Drees, allowing her to plead no contest to charges of attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated indecent solicitation of a child.

If she follows the rules in prison, Beverly Snavely could be released as early as Jan. 12, although she'll still face at least four years of post-release supervision.

On Nov. 18, Connie Douglas, 44, now living in Cozad, Neb., was placed on a year's probation, after she was sentenced to an underlying term of seven months in prison.

She was found guilty on a single count of felony theft and ordered to pay restitution of $2,142 to the Ellis County Historical Society and $304 to United Way of Ellis County, places she had worked.

In another case, Chad A. Miller, 30, Hays, was sentenced Oct. 7 to a total of 136 months in prison.

He was sentenced to 21 months in prison on a charge of reckless aggravated battery involving Ellis County Jailer Wilmer Dinkel.

That sentence is to be served consecutively to a prior sentence of 51 months on charges of attempted robbery and criminal threat. He also was sentenced to 32 months in two separate counts of aggravated battery.