COA affirms sex offender’s sentence

An Indiana Court of Appeals panel has affirmed a sex offender’s seven-year sentence despite his assertions that the sentence was inappropriate, despite a finding that a trial court improperly used the offender’s risk assessment scores as an aggravating factor.

In February 2017, Ronald Kayser was convicted of Level 6 felony failure to register conviction after he failed to inform the sheriff’s department that he had been fired from his job and had secured employment elsewhere. Later that year, Kayser was charged with Level 5 felony sexual misconduct with a minor conviction after he lifted a teenage girl into a window, he touched and rubbed the girl’s buttocks and vaginal area for about fifteen seconds. He then masturbated in the yard outside the window.

Kasyer underwent a psychosexual assessment prior to sentencing, which indicated he had a poor understanding of sex offending risk factors and an extensive criminal history, among other things. The assessment also concluded that short-term incarceration followed by probation or community supervision was not recommended given Kayser’s history of noncompliance and that he had a high risk to reoffend.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Kayser’s two- and five-year sentences ordered to run consecutively, finding the LaPorte Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing him. However, the appellate court did note the trial court improperly used Kayser’s offender risk assessment scores as an aggravating factor. Regardless, it concluded that the trial court would have imposed the same sentences even without reference to the assessment scores in its list of aggravating factors, given its finding of other valid and unchallenged aggravating circumstances.

Additionally, the appellate court rejected Kayser’s request of a remand for resentencing and his challenge to the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentences in Ronald E. Kayser v. State of Indiana,18A-CR-3117.

It finally denied his assertion that his two sentences were inappropriate, noting that the nature of his offenses in both convictions were troubling.

“Turning to Kayser’s character, we note that his poor character is revealed by an extensive criminal history that spans decades and includes a probation revocation,” Judge Rudolph R. Pyle II wrote for the court. “That criminal history includes eight misdemeanor offenses and two felony convictions. The prior felony convictions include killing another human being while driving intoxicated and a sex offense against a child that resulted in his requirement to register on the sex offender registry. Kayser’s criminal history and current offenses show that he has a disregard for the law, and his assessment scores show that he has a high risk to reoffend.”

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