The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 6, 2012

Appeals court says area man never should have served sentence



Johnson said a modified sentencing order would come later.

The appeals court ruling said there is no record of a modified order being issued or an adult sentencing hearing taking place after Booth was sent to Alpha House.

Booth’s case didn’t come before Johnson again until August 2011, which is when another probation revocation hearing was requested. Booth had been making progress in treatment during the three years he was there, but he had been terminated from the program because staff found child pornography on his cellphone.

During a probation revocation hearing in October 2011, Booth’s probation officer told Johnson there weren’t any other treatment options. She also said Booth would be a threat to society if released.

Peyton declined to address the probation allegations during that hearing. He said, because no adult sentencing order had been filed years earlier, the case should have been closed. Peyton also filed a motion to dismiss the charges and have Booth released from jail immediately.

The Court of Appeals ruling said Johnson didn’t have the authority to send Booth to Alpha House, much less prison three years later, because Booth’s probation period had ended when he turned 21.


Release still unlikely

Peyton credited the staff working with public defenders in Blue Earth County with finding the problems with Booth’s case. In a time of budget cuts and staff shortages, it’s difficult to find the time needed for a growing case load, he said.

It’s also a challenge to make sure everything happens correctly in all the other areas related to criminal justice, which are facing funding and staffing shortages of their own.

“When they handed me the file, they had already pointed out all these issues,” Peyton said while dealing with other cases at the Blue Earth County Justice Center. “There’s so many moving parts to what we do up here, it’s amazing how many times the I’s get dotted and the T’s get crossed.”

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