James Exline was sentenced Monday morning in Greene County District County to a maximum of 75 years in state prison for sexually abusing his daughter.
District Court Judge James Drew started the proceeding by denying Exline’s defense attorney Daniel Gonnerman’s motion for a new trial. Gonnerman had asked that several testimonies from the June 7th trial be stricken from the record and inadmissible, due to some of them being “hearsay.” However, Judge Drew used the “weight of evidence” standard and found there was sufficient weight to support the jury’s guilty conviction of Exline’s Class B Felony charge for second degree sexual abuse and a Class C Felony for third degree sexual abuse. He abused his 12-year-old daughter Paige Exline from June 2016 to April 2017. She was also one of two victims that died in a house fire in Guthrie Center in May of 2017.
During the sentencing phase hearing, the prosecution, led by Assistant State Attorney General Denise Timmins, had recommended that the two sentences of the felony charges run consecutively, while Gonnerman argued for them to run concurrently. Judge Drew considered all of the factors and determined that Exline was extremely dangerous and that what he did to his daughter wasn’t an isolated incident, but it happened over a period of time, and he had prior convictions.
Exline was sentenced to the maximum of 50 years for the Class B Felony and 25 years for the Class C Felony, with both to run consecutively. The State requires a minimum of 85-percent of the sentence to be served before Exline is eligible for parole. He was also ordered to pay over $1,000 in fines, surcharges and court costs.
Assistant Greene County Attorney Thomas Laehn, who sat second chair for the prosecution, talks about his reaction once the sentencing was handed out.
“I think justice was served in this case. I think that’s the appropriate sentence, given the seriousness of the crime. And given the circumstances of this case, a 75 year prison sentence is the appropriate sentence.”
Laehn anticipates Exline to appeal the ruling, and he intends to work with the State Attorney General’s office on that process when and if it happens.