A Labette County judge ordered a Parsons man to serve 32 months in prison on charges related to a February 2018 shooting in Parsons.

Gerald D. Austin Jr., 26, was charged in Labette County District Court with attempted murder related to a shooting in February 2018.

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 a spent shell casing.

A witness reported that Austin had fired a gun at a pickup that was driving away from the convenience store. There are reports of someone in the pickup firing 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 no contest 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, will ask for probation and argue that criteria for that sentence exist. County Attorney Stephen Jones will not oppose the request to find that Austin’s case meets border box findings. At the plea, Fern said his client is attending mental health counseling, has obtained a drug and alcohol evaluation and works.

After the plea, Judge Jeffry L. Jack said he would recuse from sentencing Austin and sent the case to Judge Fred W. Johnson.

On Tuesday, Johnson noted that Austin had no criminal history, so the minimum term would be 31 months for the battery charge and 11 months for the assault charge. The standard term would be one month more for each charge.

Fern asked Johnson to find that border box findings exist and to impose probation rather than prison. Austin said he was released from jail on a lower bond in July 2018 and ordered under house arrest and to have an ankle monitor. He’s been working at Johnson Controls since October 2018 and the ankle monitor came off at the end of the year.

Austin said he attended drug and alcohol counseling through Labette Center for Mental Health Services and ran out of money so he could not complete the program in which he was participating. He said he would restart that program if granted probation.

Fern said his client is amenable to treatment and treatment was available in the community.

“He’s doing really well,” Fern said.

Johnson sentenced Austin to 32 months in prison and gave him credit for 164 days served in jail.

Johnson said the presumed sentence in border box cases is prison unless border box findings are found. Those findings are that a community treatment program is available that would reduce the risk of offender recidivism and that the program is available to the offender. The nonprison sanction also is to serve community safety interests by promoting offender reformation, the judge said. 

Johnson said he carefully considered the probation request but found that language in the law does not exist to allow probation in Austin’s case. He ordered Austin taken into custody to serve his remaining sentence.

In another case, Stephanie A. Long, born in 1986, 3302 Mobile Drive, received seven months in prison for felony theft related to shoplifting at Walmart. The judge suspended the prison term and placed Long on probation for a year through community corrections. Long is to pay $1,278.36 in restitution with a co-defendant, Kasia E. Hoover, born in 1984, Erie. Hoover pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft and is on probation for 18 months for that and for felony possession of meth. Hoover received a suspended sentence of 15 months on the drug charge.

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