After professing his innocence, a man was re-sentenced Friday in Leavenworth County District Court for the second-degree murder of a 4-year-old boy.
Jason L. Jones, 36, was sentenced this time to 30 years in prison, which reduced his original sentence by almost nine years. The re-sentencing was ordered by the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Jones was sentenced Friday for charges of reckless second-degree murder and abuse of a child. The crimes were committed in 2009 in Leavenworth.
The victim, Gabriel Rivera, reportedly died from blunt force trauma after he'd been left in the care of Jones. Jones with living with the boy's mother at the time.
In 2010, Jones pleaded guilty to the charges as part of a plea agreement. But before being sentenced, he asked to withdraw his plea, arguing he had been pressured into pleading guilty.
A district judge denied Jones' request to withdraw the plea. The prosecution argued Jones had violated the plea agreement by trying to withdraw the guilty plea. And the prosecutor recommended a sentence of more than the 360 months, or 30 years, in prison that been agreed to in the plea agreement.
Jones was sentenced to 467 months, or 38 years and 11 months, in prison.
But last year, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled the prosecution still should have recommended the 30-year sentence despite Jones' request to withdraw the plea. The case was remanded back to Leavenworth County District Court for re-sentencing.
Jones also had appealed the judge's decision denying his request to withdraw his plea, but the Court of Appeals did not affirm this part of his appeal.
County Attorney Todd Thompson said Jones tried appealing his case to the Kansas Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court denied a review of the case. And the case ultimately was remanded back to District Court for re-sentencing based on the Court of Appeals ruling.
Carl Cornwell had represented Jones at the District Court level during his trial. But the attorney asked to withdraw from the case ahead of Friday's re-sentencing.
In his written motion, Cornwell wrote that Jones has filed numerous disciplinary complaints against with a state board. Cornwell stated the attorney-client relationship is "irretrievably broken."
KiAnn McBratney was appointed to represent Jones during the re-sentencing.
In accordance with the appellate court's ruling, Assistant County Attorney Cheryl Marquardt recommended the 30-year sentence that had been agreed to in the plea agreement.
McBratney said her client also requested that District Judge Gunnar Sundby follow the terms of the plea agreement.
When given the opportunity to speak, Jones said he's innocent.
"I didn't have adequate counsel before," he said.
Jones said he knew that was not the reason he was in court Friday. He said he would continue that battle another day.
Page 2 of 2 - Sundby noted that Jones now asserts he is not guilty, but the appellate court had found there was not sufficient reason for setting aside the plea.
Sundby followed the recommendation of the prosecution and defense attorneys for the 30-year sentence.
Rivera's mother, Monica F. Rivera, was convicted in 2010 of involuntary manslaughter and endangering a child in connection to her son's death. She was sentenced to more than 41 months in prison.
Her conviction was overturned last year by the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Earlier this year, she pleaded no contest to an amended charge of aggravated endangering a child. She was sentenced to the time she'd already served in prison.