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SHERIDAN — A convicted sex offender from Sheridan petitioned the Wyoming Supreme Court on Thursday, alleging prosecutorial misconduct during his sentencing and also that his assigned sentence was vague regarding the credit for time already served.
Andrew W. Deeds was sentenced to five consecutive terms of 12 to 18 years of imprisonment, or a total of 60-90 years, by 4th Judicial District Court Judge John Fenn last fall.
Originally, Deeds was charged with seven counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree in connection with repeatedly assaulting a preadolescent girl in his family while he was babysitting. He first pleaded not guilty, then not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency, and most recently, guilty to the lesser charges of five counts of second degree sexual assault of a minor.
Deeds’ case was initially delayed multiple times while he underwent competency evaluations — first before his arraignment and again before his sentencing. Both times, Deeds was deemed competent to proceed with his trial.
During oral arguments, State Public Defense Attorney Eric Alden argued it was inappropriate for Deputy County Attorney Dianna Bennett to imply Deeds had committed first-degree assaults after working out a plea agreement for lesser charges.
In the appeal, Alden states Bennett clearly argued that he “really committed first degree sexual abuse rather than the amended charge he pled guilty to and his failure to admit to sexual intrusion is failure to take responsibility for the actual crimes.”
When the allegations surfaced in 2011, Deeds admitted to assaulting the girl approximately 10 times when interviewed by investigators. However, he later retracted his admission, and at his sentencing, he only admitted to touching the victim, but not having sexual intercourse with her.
Deeds has an eighth-grade education and has been assessed by a Medicaid Waiver Program case manager as having the psychological maturity of an 11-year-old. He has been placed on a waiting list for disability benefits because of a head injury he received as a young child.
“That presents a real problem in applying the law of this case,” Alden said, explaining that it seemed as though the state promised to charge Deeds with fewer, lesser crimes, but then accused him of the more severe crimes at sentencing. “It was a bait and switch.”
Alden later conceded that the judge has the right to consider a breadth of information surrounding the case in determining a sentence to assign, and he also acknowledged Deeds did not negotiate any provisions that would prohibit the discussion of his original charges at his sentencing.
Alden also took issue with a victim impact statement and reference made by Bennett that Deeds had bragged about the assaults in prison. He called the information hearsay.
Appellee Council Katie Koski retorted that Deeds missed his chance to object at his sentencing hearing.
“Mr. Deeds was well aware of what was in the victim impact statement and he never denied or rebutted,” she said. “He hasn’t met his burden, and he can’t come back now and say they were unreliable.”
Furthermore, Koski indicated Bennett was well within her legal right to imply Deeds had committed larger offenses.
“(Deeds) got his bargained-for exchange. Instead of facing 25-50 years, he now faced 0-20 per count,” she said. “There was no sentencing recommended. It was free game to argue whatever is in the record.”
Deeds was incarcerated for more than two years before he was formally sentenced. Fenn did not articulate how the credit for time served should be applied to Deeds’ sentence.
The Wyoming Supreme Court will rule later on Deeds’ appeal.