Crime & Courts

Man gets life for sexual abuse of child

HUTCHINSON — A 20-year-old first-time offender who pleaded guilty to sodomizing a 6-year-old boy has been sentenced to life in prison under Kansas' version of Jessica's Law.

Aaron Salinas pleaded guilty in October to sexually abusing the boy in September 2008 while he was babysitting the child. On Wednesday, his defense attorney asked District Judge Tim Chambers to consider a sentence of 13 years or less in prison, but Chambers opted for the harsher penalty.

Alice Osburn, representing Salinas, said the man had a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was 18 at the time of the crime and his judgment and mental capabilities were limited.

Osburn also told Chambers that Salinas had a troubled childhood but accepted responsibility for the crime.

Jarrod Steffan, a clinical and forensic psychologist in Wichita, testified that Salinas said he was sexually molested as a child and expressed remorse. He also said Salinas had a moderate to high risk of reoffending.

"I'd like to apologize," Salinas told the court. "I understand what I did was wrong. I'd like to seek treatment if it's possible."

But the judge denied the request for a shorter sentence, saying there weren't many other crimes that have "more life-altering, detrimental effects" than the crime Salinas committed against a 6-year-old boy he did not know.

"There's nothing this young child did to precipitate" the crime against him, Chambers said before sentencing Salinas to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

Prior to the ruling, Salinas' mother, Esther Salinas, testified that her son dropped out of school after the eighth grade and lived in various homes before turning 18.

She also admitted watching as the victim's mother beat Salinas after learning of the abuse allegations.

"I regret that I consented to it," she testified.

"Did you also beat your son?" Osburn asked.

"Yes," Esther Salinas responded.

Aaron Salinas, who fled Hutchinson after the allegations surfaced, was arrested in Oklahoma City in March after being featured on the "America's Most Wanted" website.