Man Attempts Suicide Hours Before Sentencing for Child Sexual Abuse
A Mills man guilty of sexual abuse of a minor attempted suicide in the county jail about four hours before his sentencing hearing in Natrona County District Court on Wednesday, an act that the district attorney called another effort to avoid punishment.
Sheriff's Sgt. Aaron Shatto said there was a suicide attempt at the jail at 4:25 a.m., and the person was taken to the Wyoming Medical Center for observation
Aaron Shatto did not identify the person, but the attorneys confirmed at the hearing that it was James Sanders, who was taken to the Townsend Justice Center to appear before Judge Daniel Forgey.
In October, Sanders pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, which is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss four other charges. They recommended a sentence of 12-20 years in prison consecutive to any punishment he may receive in a separate case of child abuse.
At the beginning of the hearing, Sanders quietly asked if its could be delayed because he was still feeling bad after the attempt.
Forgey asked Sanders if he knew where he was, if he knew he was in a courtroom, if he knew he was in Casper and why he was there. Sanders mumbled that he thought he was there because of something about sexual abuse.
Forgey asked Sanders' public defender Dylan Rosalez if there had been a Title 25 emergency hold on the defendant after the attempt, to which Rosalez said no,
District Attorney Dan Itzen said he got a phone call at 5 a.m. about the attempt, but said it was another effort to stall the sentencing which has been on hold since the plea agreement.
"Frankly, I'm tired of it," Itzen said. "At some point the game's up."
Forgey decided to proceed with the sentencing, saying Sanders was aware enough and competent to understand what is happening.
The judge added that Sanders in April was found competent after a mental health evaluation to proceed with the separate child abuse case.
Sanders quietly said "no" when Forgey gave him the opportunity to comment.
When Forgey handed down the sentence, he reviewed the terms of the plea agreement, adding the public defender fees should be waived because Sanders won't be able to pay while incarcerated
The case began four years ago when a Mills police officer was assigned to investigate a report of child sexual abuse in April 2015.
According to court documents, the victim later told a forensic interviewer at the Children's Advocacy Project that she had been watching television with her sisters while her mother wasn't home. Sanders reportedly knocked on the front door, one of the victim's sisters opened the door, and Sanders pushed his way inside the house.
The alleged victim and another girl went into the bathroom. Sanders followed, forced the other girl out and made the victim perform oral sex on him.
The victim later told her mother, "James came into the house and had sex with me, he had me pinned and I didn't want to."
After the hearing, Itzen said he still didn't know why the Mills Police Department took so long to turn the case over to the District Attorney's Office.