Attorneys in the case of a former Soldotna-area karate teacher who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a minor are still in negotiations after his sentencing was postponed due to a discrepancy in the sentencing ranges he faced.
Michael Dean Hancock, 58, was indicted on Feb. 3, 2016 on one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor for incidents that allegedly took place in 2006 with a girl who was under 16 at the time, according to the indictment. He was also indicted at that time on three counts of unlawful exploitation of a minor in relation to more than 80 files labeled with his victim’s name found on his computer, according to the indictment.
These charges were filed after Hancock had already been indicted in January 2016 in Anchorage on 13 counts relating to child pornography.
Hancock pleaded guilty in September 2016 to one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of unlawful exploitation of a minor. According to the plea agreement reached by his defense attorney, Bill Taylor, and Adam Alexander, the prosecutor in both the Kenai and Anchorage matters, the rest of the charges from the indictment in the Kenai case were to be dismissed.
According to the plea agreement, Hancock was set to face a sentencing range of two to four years in prison for each of the counts he had pleaded guilty to. Taylor said at the time this was because the crimes he pleaded guilty to took place in 2006, and was subject to the sentencing ranges that existed at that time.
Hancock was supposed to be sentenced in January, but Superior Court Judge Anna Moran announced at that hearing that she had found state statute was actually changed in regard to presumptive sentencing ranges in April 2006. The sex abuse crimes for which Hancock was indicted happened later that year, in August and September 2006, according to the indictment. The three charges of unlawful exploitation originally included in the indictment reference incidents from 2007, according to the indictment.
According to the amended state statute, Hancock would instead face a presumptive range of five to 15 years in jail for the crimes he pleaded guilty to, according to the log notes from the January hearings. Moran postponed the sentencing to give both parties time to regroup.
“I wanted to give everybody an opportunity to do the same research that I did and figure out where they want to go,” she said during a Tuesday status hearing at the Kenai Courthouse.
During the status hearing, Taylor asked for a continuance and another status hearing, saying he and Alexander are in the process of negotiating a new resolution to the case. Alexander will be leaving his position with the state Office of Special Prosecutions after March 8, according to John Haley, an attorney with the office who appeared at the hearing over the phone in Alexander’s place.
Hancock’s next status hearing is set for 2 p.m. March 7. He is scheduled to be sentenced in the Anchorage case in April, according to online court documents.
Reach Megan Pacer at email@example.com.