Covering Louisiana

Apr 6, 2014 5:33 PM by AP

Judge rejects sentence reconsideration

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - A state district judge has refused to reconsider a 40-year sentence he gave to a Sulphur man who pleaded guilty to 40 counts of aggravated incest.

Sheldon Edward Parker pleaded guilty before Judge David Ritchie in February 2013. Parker sexually abused a girl between Jan. 1, 2008, and Aug. 31, 2011, beginning when the girl was 13.

The American Press reports the 44-year-old asked Ritchie for leniency at sentencing so he would not die in prison. The judge gave him 40 years.

Parker asked Ritchie to reconsider because there had originally been an offer of 25 years in prison if Parker pleaded guilty, keeping the victim from going through a trial.

Prosecutor David Palay acknowledged there had been an offer on the table, but said he informed Parker and his attorney it would be withdrawn the moment he called the victim to begin preparing for a February 2013 trial.

Defense attorney Cliff Newman said Parker claims his former attorney, Ted Hartman, told him to reject the 25-year offer in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence. Hartman refused comment, saying doing so would violate attorney-client confidentiality.

The morning Parker was to go to trial, he pleaded guilty.

The judge said he found no credibility in Parker's claim that he pleaded guilty so the victim could avoid a trial. She was already in anguish because it was the day of trial, Ritchie said.

He said he sentenced Parker based on the facts of the case.

"Johnnie Cochran or anybody else couldn't have helped him with that," Ritchie said.

He said Parker had treated the girl as a "non-human being" for his own gratification. "He's lucky I couldn't give him more," the judge said.

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