NEW SENTENCING ORDERED

Relates to:
Date: 2003-12-18

APPEALS COURT FAULTS JUDGE FOR FAILING TO EXPLAIN WHY SHE GAVE MAXIMUM TO ADOPTIVE FATHER WHO BEAT GIRL
Author: Phil Trexler, Beacon Journal staff writer

An Akron man who was handed a maximum prison term for beating and paralyzing his daughter adopted from Russia was granted a new sentencing hearing Wednesday.

The ruling by Ohio's 9th District Court of Appeals does not guarantee that Gerald Hyre will receive a lighter sentence. In fact, prosecutors said they intend to seek the same 16-year sentence he received in April.

But an attorney representing Hyre said she hopes the new hearing will bring her client a sentence more in line with that for an abuser, not a murderer. "I would hope the court would consider that, while this is a serious offense, there are people who have committed murder who have received less time," said Esther Thomas.

Hyre, 33, pleaded guilty to felonious assault and child endangering and is in prison.

He admitted becoming frustrated and striking 2-year-old Kelsey because the child was crying too much. The beating nearly severed Kelsey's spine and paralyzed her from the waist down.

At his sentencing hearing in April, Summit County Common Pleas Judge Jane Bond gave Hyre the maximum eight years on each charge and ordered the terms be served consecutively.

On Wednesday, the appeals court ruled that Bond failed to follow the proper guidelines when giving Hyre, a first-time offender, the maximum, consecutive sentences. Ohio law requires a judge to state on the record why the maximum penalty is being imposed.

In Hyre's appeal, prosecutors conceded that Bond had failed to enunciate her reasons.

No new sentencing date has been set.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mary Ann Kovach said the office will ask Bond to reimpose the maximum term.

In the April sentencing hearing, prosecutors said that Hyre initially showed no remorse for his crime and confessed to the beating only after being confronted with medical evidence that disproved his contention that the injuries were caused accidentally.

"There's no reason to change the sentence. The court just needs to state her reasons," Kovach said.

Hyre and his wife, Bonnie, traveled to Russia and adopted Kelsey and a 2 1/2-year-old boy in January 2002. Kelsey was beaten nine months later.

Kelsey is living with a foster family. Nathan was placed with his maternal grandmother.

Bonnie Hyre was sentenced this year to two years in prison for permitting child abuse and tampering with evidence.

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