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Man’s rape sentence amended to 77 years

By Tim Weideman

Riley County Chief Judge Meryl Wilson on Monday sentenced convicted rapist Tony Lewis to 77 years in prison for three incidents in 2009 involving Manhattan women.

Wilson originally sentenced the 24-year-old, former Fort Riley soldier in 2010 to five life sentences for two counts of rape, three counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and burglary.

But in June of this year, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Lewis had to be resentenced because the district court had made an error in sentencing him as a habitual sexual offender.

Lewis attempted to persuade Wilson to order a shorter sentence this time.

“What you did (in the 2010 sentencing), you know, by giving me all that time,” Lewis said as he stood and spoke to Wilson in court. “It opened my eyes a lot.”

Lewis mentioned he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Iraq and that he was sexually abused as a child by several people. He told Wilson he regrets never seeking help because of how his past experiences affected him and may have played a role in his criminal activity.

“I’m not using that as an excuse,” Lewis said. “I’m just saying what happened to me.”

No victims were present in the courtroom on Monday, but Lewis said he would have liked to apologize to them.

Jillian Waesche, Lewis’ attorney, asked Wilson to order a sentence that “at least gives Mr. Lewis some hope at some point in his life to get out.”

However, Riley County District Attorney Barry Wilkerson asked Wilson to impose a 103-year sentence.

“In 24 years, this was the most horrific series of rapes that I can say I’ve been involved in that have happened in Riley County,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson briefly reviewed details of the incidents, including one where Lewis raped a woman inside her home while her children were in an adjacent room.

“She was told that if she called the police, he knew where her children lived,” Wilkerson said, adding that the woman feared for her and her children’s lives. “Any word short of ‘horrific’ would not describe what she went through,” he said.

After hearing from Wilkerson and Waesche, Wilson ordered Lewis to serve 928 months in prison. That sentence will take effect after Lewis has served a sentence for a Geary County rape case that also occurred in 2009.

“I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of what you stated today to me,” Wilson told Lewis before making his ruling.

“I guess I would use the word ‘tragic’ that you did not…come to the realization of your situation before all these women’s lives were changed forever. “

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