Last year, Connor Hammond, a former BYU-Idaho student, was sentenced to a minimum of four years in prison with a maximum of ten years possible — after being convicted on charges of felony rape and two counts of felony lewd conduct with a minor. In January, Hammond’s defense attorney, Kristopher Meek, urged Judge Steven Boyce for a reduced sentence in a hearing held in Rexburg. Boyce rejected that motion in a written statement on Friday.
Meek presented several new exhibits to the court on behalf of Hammond, including a letter from Hammond’s cellmate, a letter from two facilitators for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 12-step program and a certificate of completion for the same 12-step program.
Meek also called two expert witnesses to the stand for the hearing, Dale Rogers, a retired police officer who runs a private polygraph testing firm and is certified to administer polygraph tests, and Blair Gardner who administered Hammond’s psychosexual examination when he was first arrested.
Rogers was contacted after Hammond’s sentencing when the defense felt there were concerns with the psychosexual examination and the polygraph test administered during that evaluation. One of the main concerns Rogers noticed in his reevaluation was that Hammond was shackled to the wall during his initial polygraph test that may have caused mental distress and distraction that could have prevented conclusive results in the test.
Gardner stated that despite the results of the polygraph test administered by Rogers after the sentencing and the concerns of the initial polygraph test, he ultimately felt no significant change to the outcome of his psychosexual evaluation of Hammond.
The driving argument behind Hammond’s defense was that he was emotionally immature but capable of rehabilitation and that a prolonged prison sentence around others convicted of sexually deviant behavior may impede that rehabilitation and actually increase his chances of reoffending. Meek suggested that based on the results of the psychosexual evaluation and Hammond’s response to his 12 step program, he was indeed capable of rehabilitation with strict supervision.
Madison County prosecutor, Rob Wood, argued that Hammond had been under intense supervision while a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years in Australia and still reportedly engaged in inappropriate behavior with a 17-year-old girl.
Wood further argued that the potential for rehabilitation is only one aspect of sentencing and that a larger aspect was justice for the victim. Reducing the sentence would not serve justice to the victim or her family.
“Mr. Hammond is a predator,” Wood said. “Lessening this sentence would be a lack of justice for this victim.”
In his six-page opinion, Boyce stated in part that, “The court concludes that its original sentence is not excessive nor is the sentence improper.”