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Molester’s sentence upheld

Last Thursday, the state Supreme Court upheld a five-year and eight-month sentence of an Island County child molester who violated the terms of the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative program.

Donald Speirs, a 68-year-old Arizona resident, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court in 1999 to child molestation in the first degree. He molested a 10-year-old girl while visiting an Oak Harbor home during Thanksgiving of 1997.

Judge Alan Hancock sentenced Speirs to five years and eight months in prison, but suspended the sentence according to the guidelines of the SSOSA program. Under the program, Speirs was required to complete a three year outpatient program for sexual deviancy, pay fines and restitution, serve 20 days in jail and not commit any new offenses.

But Speirs violated these conditions by committing a new sex crime in 2000 in Arizona. He was convicted of that crime after a jury trial, and given a three-year prison sentence.

Island County prosecutors learned about his Arizona conviction — which meant his suspended sentence should be imposed — but they had to wait until after he served his prison term in Arizona to extradite him back to Island County.

At a 2003 hearing, Judge Hancock followed the prosecution’s recommendation and imposed the 68-month sentence.

Speirs appealed the sentence, arguing that Hancock didn’t give him the chance to ask for leniency during the 2003 hearing. According to Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, the case skipped over the Court of Appeals and went to the State Supreme Court, where it was consolidated with two other cases involving similar claims.

The Supreme Court ruled that Speirs did not have a constitutional right of allocution — to beg for leniency — when a suspended sentence in revoked.

Apparently, sex offender treatment hasn’t worked very well for Speirs. Court documents state that he went through sexual deviancy treatment in the 1960s and again in the late 1990s.

Deputy Prosecutor Joshua Choate, who handled the appeal, is relieved the case is finally over.

“Speirs’ case has been in the prosecutor’s office since 1998,” he said in a press release. “It’s been a long road, but I’m glad to be at the end of it and see that Speirs will remain behind bars.”

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