A twice-convicted sex offender on parole who grabbed a 13-year-old girl outside a 7-Eleven store, threw her into a car and choked her before she managed to escape was sent back to prison with a maximum sentence Friday.
Paul Brian Warner, 29, pleaded guilty to attempted child kidnapping, a first-degree felony that carries a sentence of three years to life in prison.Paul Quinlan, Warner's attorney, asked 3rd District Judge William Bohling to run the sentence concurrently with the one-to-15-year sentence Warner had been serving.
But Bohling imposed consecutive sentences.
"It's a terrible crime, and I've punished it to the maximum I can," Bohling said.
The now 14-year-old girl wept as she told the judge how emotionally devastating the Feb. 27, 1997, experience had been and continues to be. At times her voice was nearly inaudible because she was sobbing so hard.
"My life has changed forever," she said. "The terror of my experience will never go away."
Her mother told the court that her daughter still is fearful and has nightmares. "She refused to sleep in her own room, she sleeps in my bed, she took to putting my bathrobe over her school clothes (because it made her feel safe)," the mother said.
The mother also scoffed at the argument that Warner had done well in sex offender treatment programs. "If he had made progress in his therapy, this act would not have happened," she said. "He's made a mockery of the system."
Bohling commended the victim and her mother for their "compelling, very genuine, very heartfelt" comments. He also acknowledged the "very touching" letters he had received from people close to Warner and the fact that Warner had endured an abusive childhood.
"It's a difficult day for all," the judge said.
But even if Warner had been abused as a child, Bohling said he could not feel comfortable with a lesser sentence, especially in light of Warner's two prior convictions for sex-related crimes.
Quinlan argued that Warner had restrained himself during the abduction and had not sexually hurt the girl, that he had been cooperative with the criminal justice system and had tried to reduce the number of court appearances the victim had to make to make things easier for her.
Quinlan also said Warner had not received the type of sex offender treatment he needed because previous programs focused on victim empathy rather than impulse control, which Warner is lacking.
"He has a solid understanding of what he needs help with," Quinlan said.
But prosecutor Blake Nakamura denounced Warner as a predator who simply failed to complete his crime. Nakamura also said the girl escaped due to her own level-headedness, not because of any restraint or hesitation on Warner's part.
"This is just a dangerous and scary individual," Nakamura said. "He is not worthy of freedom."
Nakamura said Warner showed up six days after the crime for a group therapy session with mental health professionals. "He was able to convince them he was doing well when we knew he was not doing well. He was on the prowl," Nakamura said. "This is an individual who needs to be locked up."