A Wyoming man was sentenced Monday to 2.5 to 12 years in prison for the attempted strangulation and domestic battery of his ex-wife, which occurred in Rexburg in late 2014.
The defendant, Lael Lee Hemmert, was arrested and charged seven months ago for six different felonies, including kidnapping, rape, attempted strangulation, sexual penetration with a foreign object and domestic battery, according to court documents.
According to Judge Gregory Moeller, who heard the case, the state dropped four of the six charges because Hemmert made a plea deal, so the sentence on June 1 was just for attempted strangulation and domestic battery.
The hearing began at 3:04 p.m. Moeller heard arguments from both the prosecution and the defense for 50 minutes.
The prosecution argued for 3 to 12 years in prison, noting Hemmert’s criminal history.
The defense argued for a suspended sentence and a neuropsychiatric examination to better determine an appropriate sentence.
After his attorney finished his argument, Hemmert was allowed to speak to the court.
Hemmert said he had a close relationship with his elderly parents and children to support. He said a long prison sentence would cause them hardship.
“I do acknowledge that I need help to make me a better person,” Hemmert said.
Moeller spoke for 20 minutes prior to the sentencing.
He said that although Hemmert had a long history of problems with alcoholism and anger, nothing in the case justified Hemmert’s actions.
“I have to consider the question: How many more people are going to suffer your uncontrolled rage?” Moeller said.
Moeller said he had read abusive text messages from Hemmert to his ex-wife taken into evidence and had reviewed Hemmert’s criminal and psychological history.
He said he believed Hemmert was likely to commit more crimes if he received a light sentence.
Moeller sentenced Hemmert to 2.5 to 12 years for attempted strangulation and 2.5 to 10 years for domestic battery, to be served concurrently.
Moeller said he understood Hemmert’s situation, but sentencing him to prison was the best way to serve justice.
“I understand that this is a major setback in your life, and that that’s an understatement,” Moeller said. “I also recognize that you have some very serious problems.”
Moeller also imposed more than $4,000 in fines, including $150 to a victims-compensation fund.
Moeller said that whether Hemmert served the minimum of 2.5 years or the maximum of 12 was up to Hemmert since he could be released earlier if he made significant progress toward reform.