Wyoming Supreme Court Denies Sentence Reduction for Child Molester
The Wyoming Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the request of a Casper man to reduce his prison sentence for sexually abusing a girl.
In January 2019, Natrona County District Court Judge Kerri Johnson sentenced Christopher Terrence Coffey to 13.5 years to 15 years for second-degree sexual abuse of a girl born in 2004.
Johnson agreed with the prosecution's recommendation because of the effects on the victim and the defendant's prior criminal history including three felonies. The maximum sentence could have been 20 years imprisonment.
Before Johnson handed down the sentence, the victim's mother read a victim impact statement, saying Coffey had opportunities to reform but didn't change, and the victim has been in therapy and will suffer for a long time.
Coffey then began the appeals process, according to the summary of the case in the Wyoming Supreme Court's opinion written by Chief Justice Michael K. Davis.
On April 6, 2020, Coffey, through his public defenders, filed a motion with Natrona County District Court to reduce his prison sentence saying the court abused its discretion when it ignored his stated progress during his incarcerations, lack of disciplinary record, his plans for growth and the support of his church community.
Two weeks later, the state district court denied the motion, citing his background and criminal history.
Coffey then appealed to the Wyoming Supreme Court.
The Wyoming Rules of Criminal Procedure do not require state district courts to respond to motions for sentence reductions, and the Supreme Court yields those decisions to the district courts, according to the opinion.
The Supreme Court also rejected Coffey's assertion that his prison sentence "was aimed solely at punishing him to the exclusion of the other goals of a criminal sentence."
The district court is in the best position to determine an appropriate sentence, Coffey's sentence was within the range of punishment, "and we therefore find no abuse of discretion in the district court's denial of a reduction."
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