Short Criminal Docket In District Court Wednesday

Judge Kim Cudney, Chief Judge of the 12th Judicial District, dealt with a short criminal docket during Motion Day held at the Mitchell County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

There were six cases listed on the docket but the two cases against Brandon J. Ridder, who was to be arraigned today, were put off by a Motion for Continuance filed by his Council Joseph A. Allen and moved to the January Motion Day docket. The case of Tori L Ryster, to be represented by WM. Rex Lorson, was moved to Civil Court to be handled there.

The case of the State of Kansas represented by Mitchell County Attorney, Mark J. Noah, VS Aaron G. Harmon represented by Council, Julie Effenbeck came before the Judge for Revocation of Probation. On March 7, 2012, Harmon was convicted of Aggravated Indecent Liberty's with A 12-year old child. This is a Level 5 Personal Felony charge.

Since he had no prior convictions and had just turned 18, Harmon was granted probation and allowed to go into a treatment program. He was sentenced to 36 months with the Department of Corrections. He will have to register as a sex offender and be subject to post relief supervision for the rest of his life.

Harmon was back in court today represented by Council Julie Effenbeck for Revocation of Probation. County Attorney Noah called Christine Witt, with the 12th District Department of Corrections, who works with this case to the witness stand. Witt testified evidence that showed Harmon ignored the conditions of his probation that stated he was to have no contact with underage children.

Harmon was shown to have had a continued sexual relationship with a very vulnerable 16 year old girl with mental health issues. The girl's stepfather is in prison at the present time for sexual abuse of the girl. Jean Hinchman, a case investigator with the Department of Correction who works on child related cases, was called to the stand to testify. She told the court the girl told her yesterday she and Harmon had unprotected sex a number of times. The mother knew of their friendship but not necessarily of the sexual relations, she said. The girl and her mother were present in the courthouse this afternoon if they needed to be called to testify but weren't called.

Witt said Harmon was non-compliant with his treatment, violated his probation and showed no remorse for his actions. He was discharged from treatment sometime ago for lack of attendance and no longer attends any kind of sex offender management program. Judge Cudney said this is a Border Box case and Harmon is said to be a high current risk for sexual behavior. He was sentenced to 34 months with the Department of Corrections with post-relief supervision. The Judge denied Councilor Effenbeck's request for a lesser sentence. He was remanded to the Mitchell County Police Department until transfer can be made to the Department of Corrections.

The case of Niklus L. Bunch represented by Councilor Julie Effenbeck VS The State of Kansas represented by Mitchell County Attorney, Mark J. Noah came before Judge Cudney for Revocation of Probation. Bunch was found guilty of breaking and entering, a Level 7, non-person felony during the April motion day proceedings. Bunch and an accomplice broke into the Donker Liquor Store took two cases of beer and left the scene of the crime. They were apprehended several hours later.

In court today, Christine Witt, caseworker with the 12th District Department of Corrections, testified Bunch has a long history of alcohol and drug abuse. He violated his probation and tested positive for the use of liquor and illegal substances. He was sent to Sunrise Treatment Center and failed to report in with Witt or make any contact with her after he was released.

Bunch also failed to make restitution to the Donker's, pay court costs, do his community service time, or obtain employment as stipulated in his probation conditions, Witt said. She recommended a new evaluation be done since a long period of time has passed since he was in treatment. The Judge ordered a 60-day sanction against Bunch. She said he was being given another chance but the next time he comes before the court he will serve time in prison. He was remanded to the Mitchell County Police Department.

The final case to come before the court was that of Todd Wiles who was due for Sentencing but filed for downward action to obtain probation. The State of Kansas was represented by Mitchell County Attorney, Mark J. Noah VS Wiles represented by Council Julie Effenbeck. On August 6, 2012, Wiles was charged with Aggravated Sexual Battery, a level 5, personal felony charge. His wife is the mother of the victim in the case and they have two small children at home. Wiles has filed with the sex offender program and has completed all provisions put before him by the Department of Corrections caseworker. He set up an appointment for his own treatment program and willingly completed that.

Wiles took the stand to testify in his own defense at the proceedings yesterday and said he is willing to do whatever is necessary to overcome this problem. He feels his long bout with alcohol addiction is responsible for his actions at the time this incident occurred. Wiles and his wife are attending marriage counseling.

Judge Cudney said due to his remorsefulness for his actions and his willingness to work to correct his problems she would not sentence him to prison time. She did sentence him to 44 months with the Department of Corrections and 50 hours of community service. He is to have no contact with the victim or any other minor children, including his own, unless it is approved by his caseworker. The Judge said this really a presumptive prison offence and if Wiles violates any part of his probation conditions he would not be given a second privilege.

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