Border box on grid gives judges sentencing options

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Two people arrested and charged after an eight-year-old girl was brutally raped and kidnapped have very different sentences.

Jeremy Lindsey, 30, was found guilty on 10 felony counts by a jury earlier this month. Lindsey kidnapped his young victim from her home in a south Topeka neighborhood in September 2014. Court paperwork outlines in graphic detail how he raped and assaulted his victim before leaving her alone in an abandoned house.

“This little girl to go through all of this…She had been raped three times, she had been feed drugs, she had been drug through wooded areas and let alone taken from her only family’s house,” said Jan Hudson.

Hudson called police after the girl escaped the empty house and ended up on Hudson’s doorstep in the 2500 block of S.E. Ohio. on September 20, 2014.

“It was just a tragedy,” Hudson said.

The experience upset Hudson and she was compelled to write a reflection.

Angel Story

The Topeka Police Department charged another person after the 2014 crime.

Michelle Lee Harris, 24, was originally charged with aggravated kidnapping, rape, and aggravated endangering a child. Later court documents show the rape charge was dropped.

Harris admitted to driving Lindsey and the victim from a wooded area to an abandoned house. She testified she did not have an prior knowledge of what Lindsey had done or was planning to do.

KSNT News went to the Shawnee County Courthouse and obtained documents that show, before these charges, Harris did not have any criminal record. She also cooperated with county prosecutors and testified against Lindsey at his trial.

Although these were the first charges Harris has ever faced, the severity level pushed Harris into a border box. There are three of these boxes on the grid and Harris falls into the box with the lowest amount of time served.

“It wasn’t a guarantee she’d get a non-prison sentence and it wasn’t a guarantee she wouldn’t get one,” said Billy Rork. “I’ve always found judges do it on a case by case basis.”

Harris was granted intensive supervised probation by Shawnee County District Judge Nancy Parrish. However, there is still jail time attached to the probation. If Harris violates the terms of her probation, she will have to serve her prison time.

“It doesn’t matter what the offense is as long as it falls in the border box,” Rork said. “So the court has to look at what the defense puts on but it doesn’t have to accept it.”

Harris’ attorney Mike Warner said this sentence was a good outcome for his client.

The prosecutor’s office and sentencing court fairly considered Ms. Harris’ lack of criminal history, her minimal involvement, and her substantial assistance as a witness against Jeremy Lindsey. As such, the Judge’s sentence of a suspended 40 month prison sentence and 3 years probation is an appropriate sentence.”

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