Karnes sentenced to 108 months

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 17, 2001

John M.

Saturday, February 17, 2001

John M. Karnes Jr., 36, of Austin, was sentenced to 108 months, or nine years, in prison on Feb. 8.

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Karnes was convicted by a jury on Nov. 2 to one count of criminal sexual conduct in the first-degree and one count of criminal sexual conduct in the second-degree. Karnes was accused of molesting a five-year-old girl in fall 1999.

"Because she was so young and was in a ‘zone of privacy,’" said Assistant County Attorney Jonathan Olson, "we argued for an upward departure."

A "zone of privacy" is a place where the individual "should have expected to feel safe," such as her bed, said Olson. Asking for an "upward departure" means the County Attorney’s office asked for a sentence above the state’s sentencing guidelines, which in this case was 86 months, or seven years and two months.

Olson argued Karnes’ sentence should be increased to 172 months, or 14 years and four months. Conversely, defense attorney Evan Larson asked for a downward departure, or a lesser sentence than the state’s guidelines.

"There are treatment opportunities locally, which are not available in prison," said Larson, in explaining why he argued for the downward departure.

After hearing the arguments, Judge Donald E. Rysavy sentenced Karnes to 72 months, or six years, in prison, and 36 months of supervised release. The supervised release is, however, dependent upon Karne’s behavior while in prison in St. Cloud, added Olson.