17-year-old John "JJ" Hatch was sentenced in 4th Judicial District Court Friday morning. Hatch plead guilty to one felony count of Robbery and four felony counts of Delivery of a Controlled Substance per a plea agreement with the State.
Prosecuting attorney for the State was Sheridan Deputy County Attorney Darci Arsene, who told Judge John Fenn that in reading the Pre-Sentence Investigation report, the State was saddened to learn of Hatch's childhood and upbringing. She noted for the Court that Hatch began selling drugs at age eleven in order to help his mother pay the rent. His criminal history escalated to the incident that got him arrested in February of this year.
In December, 2009, Hatch, along with Dillon Sutherlin and Jesse Hamlin, used an assault rifle to rob David Simmons of of marijuana. They also severely beat Simmons.
Arsene told the Court that Hatch has made pro-active efforts in his defense, and that he is young enough to turn his life around and make something of himself.
Defense Counsel, Scott Powers, echoed Arsene, adding that Hatch is very proud of getting his GED since being incarcerated in the Sheridan County Detention Center. He told the judge that Hatch wants to eventually work toward a college degree after serving his sentence. Powers said that Hatch is remorseful, and well aware that the incident could have turned out far worse [referencing the four murder trials held in District Court this year].
When Hatch was given an opportunity to speak, he told Judge Fenn that was was sorry for taking the Court's time. He said, "These were poor choices I made. I'm very proud of my GED, and I'm looking forward [someday] to Casper College, where I want to work toward getting a Business Degree. I can't believe where my life started, and I want to make something of my life.
Before handing down the sentence, Judge Fenn said, "Actions speak louder than words, both positively and negatively, and your taking responsibility and getting your GED mean more to me than just saying 'I'm sorry.'"
Fenn then sentenced Hatch to the following: Count 1, Robbery, 4 to 6 years in prison via the Youthful Offender Boot Camp program, with credit for time served in the DC. For Counts 2, 3, 4 and 5, all Delivery charges, Hatch was sentenced to 4 to 6 years, suspended, in lieu of five years probation for each count. The probation time will run concurrently to each of those four counts, but consecutive to Count 1.
Hatch is also to pay a total of $1,000 in restitution to the Crime Victims Fund, $350 in attorney fees, $75 for the substance abuse evaluation and $10 in court costs.