A Parsons man sentenced to prison in July on an aggravated battery charge is seeking a chance at another sentencing hearing.

On July 16, District Judge Fred W. Johnson sentenced Gerald D. Austin Jr., 26, to 32 months in prison on the charge related to a February 2018 shooting in Parsons.

Austin had been charged with attempted murder, but that charge was reduced in plea negotiations. 

Austin and Kyle E. Dickens were arrested Feb. 3, 2018, after a police officer on patrol heard gunshots and discovered Dickens and Austin at Bordertown convenience store, 29th and Main. Officers recovered two weapons— 9 mm and .25-caliber handguns — ammunition and drugs, as well as one shell casing.

A witness reported that Austin had fired a gun at a pickup that was driving away from the convenience store. Witnesses reported that someone in the pickup fired back toward Austin, though the vehicle occupants denied that.

Dickens, 19, served a 13-month prison term for two counts of attempted aggravated assault from an incident earlier that same day.

Austin pleaded to aggravated battery, a mid-level felony, and aggravated assault, a lower-level felony.

Austin was in the border box on the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines grid, which means he could receive prison or probation. Austin and his attorney, Mark Fern, asked for probation and argued that reasons for probation exist. As part of the plea, County Attorney Stephen Jones did not oppose the request to find that Austin’s case meets border box findings that would result in probation.

Austin attended mental health counseling while free on bond, until he wasn’t able to afford it, and had worked steadily.

Judge Johnson denied the request for probation and ordered Austin to serve his prison term.

Fern filed a request for Judge Johnson to reconsider Austin’s sentence. Fern wants to offer testimony from a mental health worker who met with Austin and Austin’s bond supervisor in hope of getting a different sentencing result.

A hearing is set for Sept. 24. So far, Austin remains in the Labette County Jail.

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