A Fallon man who had changed his plea to no contest in a trial earlier this year received on Tuesday the stiffest sentence possible for inappropriately touching two children under the age of 14.
Tenth Judicial Court Judge Tom Stockard didn’t seem swayed with a report that said Donald Evans IV, 28, of Fallon was a low risk sex offender and could receive probation for lewdness with two minors. Instead, Stockard followed state guidelines and sentenced Evans to eight to 20 years in the Nevada State Prison and fined him in excess of $2,000.
Originally, Evans pleaded not guilty to two counts of lewdness with a child under 14. His trial was held earlier this year. According to court reports, Evans was arrested on July 9, 2014, after the Fallon Police Department was alerted to alleged sexual abuse that occurred one month earlier on June 10. Court documents and testimony during Tuesday’s sentencing phase stated Evans touched the two children on their private parts and that the younger child witnessed the older one being sexually abused.
Before the proceedings began, friends, family and others in support of the two victims packed the back of the courtroom.
Deputy District Attorney Chelsea Sanford argued for a harsh sentence against Evans and said he deserved the long prison sentence to protect “the children of our community.” She said the only remorse Evans showed was an apology letter he wrote to the victims. In the letter, Evans, a father of two, said his marriage was dissolving, and he was sorry for what he did to the two children.
Sanford also hammered on Evans’ different answers to various law enforcement and medical officials.
The court heard from Lisa Brannon, the pre-sentence investigation writer, who based the PSI report on information gleaned from Parole and Probation interviews. Evans was deemed a low-risk offender not likely to re-offend. The court heard, though, that Parole and Probation would not be able to monitor Evans continuously.
Public defender Jake Sommer, however, said one of the provisions stated Evans must stay away from children. As Sanford was later reading information from a report about sexual abuse, Sommer objected, and said it’s nothing but conjecture.
Stockard interrupted and then looked directly at Sanford.
“I am your audience,” Stockard said. “Tell me why or why not he should go to prison.”
Sanford said the state wanted to show that Evans is not a low-risk offender. Sommer said the sentencing guidelines called for a chance for Evans to receive probation.
Sommer said Evans is low risk and will not re-offend, according to the report, and added his client is a young man in a stressful situation but has a good family behind him.
“Mr. Evans is someone who wants to move on,” Sommer said.
Sommer also said Evans’ goal is not to place himself into a similar situation again. Sommer said employment awaits Evans if he were to receive probation.
During the impact statements, the court heard from the parents. A father of one of the children said he doesn’t agree with probation.
“They will live with this for the rest of their lives,” he said of the children. “Eight to 20 is not enough. I think it should be more.”
The father of the second child took the stand and called Evans an evil person.
“This is not a script from a horror movie,” he said.
He also said a maximum sentence is not good enough. The father asked Stockard to put himself in his position and understand the pain the children have endured.
The mother of the two children took the stand.
“Nothing can heal my children’s childhood,” she said. “They are still scared of him.”
She called her children the heart and soul of their family.
After the impact phase, Stockard explained the Nevada Revised Statute about the plea and what he was bound to follow; however, Stockard rendered the harsh sentence and said probation was not appropriate considering the vulnerability of the children.
Once he sentenced Evans, the court erupted into clapping.
After the trial, Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills said Evans’ attorney and the state agreed to a plea on the second day of the trial, thus allowing a no contest plea instead of not guilty.
“Having two very young victims go through a trial and cross examination with a defense attorney can be rough for the children,” Mills explained. “This is traumatic even for adults who have been victims of these types of crimes.”
Mills said another reason for a plea agreement is usually to prevent the children from taking the stand in front of jurors they may not know.
In other court news:
Melody Ann Armstrong was sentenced to the county jail for 270 days for assault on a peace officer, a gross misdemeanor. According to court testimony, Armstrong attempted to take a service pistol from a law enforcement officer.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills said Armstrong wanted to take her own life with the weapon.
“We’re seeing about every week an assault or battery on an officer,” Mills said.
Stockard, when sentencing Armstrong, noted she had previous felony convictions.
Scott Joseph Bilbruck was placed on probation for not paying child support. According to court testimony, Bilbruck owes $48,500 in support, but said he is trying to meet his obligation.
Tara Stephanie Leann Zabel pleaded guilty to one count of using or being under the influence of methamphetamine.
The count carries a prison sentence of one to four years and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
Stockard granted her permission to attend the drug diversion program.
Teresa Anne McCoy violated her probation by being removed from a drug diversion program and using a controlled substance.
She was sent to the Nevada State Prison for 19-48 months. She had pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine on April 15, 2015.
“She has been given every tool to help her avoid prison,” said Deputy District Attorney Michael Winn.
Public defender Peter Smith said McCoy has an addiction problem and needs a mental evaluation. He asked for probation to be reinstated.
Anthony Joseph Sanchez was granted permission to undergo treatment for substance/alcohol abuse for six months at a facility in Reno. He was originally sentenced 19-40 months in the Nevada State Prison was Stockard suspended the sentence as long as Sanchez attends the program sponsored by The Salvation Army.
Courtney Lynne Martin was remanded to Justice Court for battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm.
Michael Lee Manning’s case was continued for one week because the defendant was intoxicated when he appeared at court according to court records. He earlier pleaded guilty to one count of grand larceny of a motor vehicle less than $3,500. According to court documents, the defendant drove away in a 1994 Chevy K1500 truck.
Manning faces one to five years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.