Major County judge sentences 20-year-old to 2 years in prison for abusing adopted Liberian girl

Date: 2010-03-10
Source: enidnews.com`

By Joe Malan

ENID — FAIRVIEW — A member of the family accused of abusing a child adopted from Liberia was given a 10-year sentence Wednesday in Major County District Court.

Ashton Malachi Tyler, 20, was sentenced to two years in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and eight years suspended after pleading no contest to a felony count of rape by instrumentation.

The sentence was handed down by Major County District Judge Dean Linder after hearing arguments from the state and defense.

Ashton Tyler is one of four members of the Tyler family who had pleaded no contest to charges of abuse.

On Feb. 1, Ashton’s mother, Penny Sue Tyler, 46, was given a 10-year suspended sentence with 60 days in Major County Jail for one felony count of child abuse.

His father, Ardee Verlon Tyler, 52, also was given a 10-year suspended sentence for a felony count of child abuse.

Nathania Dellare Tyler, 21, was given a 90-day suspended sentence on a misdemeanor count of assault and battery.

Court documents in the case had alleged between 2005 and 2007, a then 9-year-old girl the family adopted in 2005 was abused, raped and assaulted by members of the family.

During the hearing Wednesday, the state and defense attorney called one witness each.

Westline Ritter, assistant district attorney for Alfalfa County and representative of the state, called Barbara Louise Thomas-Johnson as her witness.

The 12-year-old victim currently is in Thomas-Johnson’s care and she said she hopes to adopt her soon.

Thomas-Johnson said as a result of the rape at the hands of Ashton Tyler, the girl already has had a heavy dose of counseling and expects she will have to receive much more as time goes on.

Thomas-Johnson further stated because of the actions of Tyler, the victim always sleeps with a light on and her door locked, with a fan and a radio constantly running.

“She stresses out very easily,” Thomas-Johnson said. “Her self-image has been very, very low.”

Defense attorney Ron Willis, meanwhile, called Ardee Tyler as his witness.

Willis asked Tyler questions pertaining to the state of the family before and during the time the victim and four other girls the family adopted came into the household.

Ardee told Willis Ashton Tyler had never caused any major problem for him before, and he had only begun to act inappropriately when the girl was adopted by the family.

During Ritter’s closing arguments, she blasted Ardee Tyler’s testimony, saying he was passing off all the blame for the rape onto the victim while devoting none of it to Ashton Tyler.

She recommended a 20-year sentence in the Department of Corrections for Ashton Tyler and that he pay several fines and restitution in addition to getting treatment and registering as a sex offender.

In his closing arguments, Willis asked Linder to give Ashton Tyler the minimum sentence possible of five years, stating he was worried spending a long period of time in jail would cause him to learn to be a worse sex offender from “pros.”

Before revealing Ashton Tyler’s sentence, Linder announced to everyone in attendance he received a letter in February stating the only two facilities in the state that offered sex offender rehab programs would no longer be offering them due to statewide budget cuts.

However, Linder said, Tyler and his probation officer still would have to find an acceptable form of treatment during his time in the Department of Corrections or immediately sign up for a rehab program if and when the state budget recovers.

“That’s your problem,” Linder said to Tyler after handing down the sentence.

As part of the sentence, Tyler must also pay court costs and a $2,000 fine.

Ritter said she was pleased and disappointed with the outcome at the same time.

“I’m pleased with the sentence,” she said, “But I’m disappointed with the budget cuts and that we will no longer have (sex offender rehab) treatments in the Department of Corrections.”

Earlier in the proceedings, before arguments were heard, Linder had to make a determination as to whether Tyler would be sentenced as a youthful offender or an adult offender.

Linder determined Tyler would be sentenced as an adult offender in part because, being the age of 20, the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs could not offer him any treatment.

OJA only offers treatment to people age 18 years and six months or younger.

Since it came down to Tyler either not receiving any punishment as a juvenile or receiving punishment for the felony count of rape by instrumentation, Linder said he would be sentenced as an adult.

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