Other times, though, a defendant will plead "open." This means that the State and the defendant have not reached an agreement, and that there will be no recommendation to the judge as to sentencing.
That's what happened in the Manieri child molestation case less than 5 years ago. And that means that Steve Simpson, sitting as a circuit judge, was the sole person responsible for the decision to sentence Manieri to 2 years in prison (the minimum) and then suspend one of those years.
Here's the court file:
Manieri Molestation File
Some interesting notes:
- Manieri was a convicted felon when he pled guilty before then-Judge Simpson for "touch(ing) or rub(bing) with his hands and tongue the vagina" of the child in question.
- Not only was Manieri a convicted felon at the time he pled, he was also on probation for his prior conviction of credit card fraud.
- The plea was an "Alford" or "best interests" plea. That means that Manieri would not admit his guilt, but did admit that if he proceeded to trial, the State had enough evidence to probably lead to a guilty verdict.
- The minimum sentence for this crime is 2 years in prison. The maximum is 15 years.
- Child molestation is a "day for day" crime, as is noted on the third page of the court file. That means no parole
- Manieri was sentenced by Steve Simpson on October 3, 2006 to one year in prison. A sentence of 1 year on a 15 year crime is 6% of the maximum. If Simpson had sentenced Manieri to just 33% of the maximum, Father Edward Everitt would be alive today.