WALLA WALLA — Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann has denied a prosecution motion to reconsider allowing a man convicted of assaulting his infant daughter early this year to remain out of prison pending the outcome of his appeal.
In a written motion filed Monday, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern maintained that Lohrmann should change his mind because there are no valid reasons Alan R. Hackney should remain free and allowing him to do so is not in the interests of justice.
But Lohrmann signed a decision and order today denying the motion and allowing Hackney to remain free.
Lohrmann sentenced Hackney on Oct. 14 to three years in prison after a jury convicted him in a trial last month of second-degree assault of a child — domestic violence.
But in an unusual move, Lohrmann decided to stay imposition of the prison term until Hackney’s appeal winds its way through the state’s higher courts, which could take up to two years to reach a final conclusion.
If Hackney, 21, ultimately loses or violates conditions of his release, he will serve the three-year prison term.
Law enforcement officials said Hackney intentionally assaulted Sophia J. Hackney at their home at 2107 Granite Drive on Jan. 4. Sophia — who was 1-month old at the time — suffered fractured skull bones, but apparently has made a full recovery and continues to live with her mother, Robyn Herald.
Hackney asserted he accidentally dropped his baby.
But since he was convicted and sentenced, Mulhern wanted him to start serving his prison term.
In her motion, Mulhern wrote there is no reason included in state law or appellate court cases justifying Lohrmann to stay the imposition in this case.
At the Oct. 14 sentencing, Lohrmann said he doesn’t want to “destroy the relationship” between Hackney and his daughter, and decided to continue allowing him to have visits with her, supervised by his parents.
But Mulhern argued in her written motion that “impairment of the parent/child relationship is not a valid reason” for staying the prison term. And now that Hackney’s been convicted, “he should not be permitted to have any contact with the child he injured.”
Regarding that issue, Lohrmann observed in today’s written order that should Hackney’s release be revoked, “even if he wins the appeal he would permanently lose” because there would effectively be a nearly automatic termination of his parental rights.
Lohrmann reiterated his stance that to impose immediate prison time on Hackney before his appeal is concluded would result in “permanent damage to the parent-child relationship,” even though he has no prior record, is actively supervised by the Department of Corrections, and poses little or no danger to the victim or to the community.
Citing state law on the matter, Lohrmann wrote he “finds insufficient evidence that the stay will either unduly diminish the deterrent effect of the punishment or cause unreasonable trauma to the victim or her family.”
Terry McConn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8319.