By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
At the June 26 sentencing hearing inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, Carney "greatly applauded" Burns' constitutional arguments against the mandatory minimum as "very interesting" and said he hopes the Ninth Circuit will eventually address the topic. But the judge rejected the claim, saying Congress "rightfully" placed "heavy penalties" on the sexual exploitation of children. He then asked the defendant if he had any comments.
"What I did was wrong," said a weeping Wells, who was chained and guarded by two U.S. marshals. "I am ashamed. I have a 3-year-old daughter, and God forbid, if my daughter had to walk in those shoes [of a teenage prostitute] . . . I've changed."
The judge said he was moved by the statement and noted character reference letters had been "glowing," but concluded he could not ignore the "sale of girls' bodies and the destruction of their dignity. . . . No rational person would commit this crime."
Wells' uncle, who attended the hearing, told Carney he'd been a violent robber on cocaine early in his life and had turned his life around after "my father told me I was no good" on his deathbed. Calling for leniency, the relative promised, "[Wells] can change just like I did."
Burns pleaded for Carney to issue a seven-year punishment as an appropriate deviation from the sentencing-range requirement of a 135-to-168-month prison trip. Both the judge and the prosecutor were willing to waive the guidelines, especially because the pimp acknowledged his guilty early. The next time Wells can see freedom will be 120 months from now.
"It's really a sad day," observed Carney.