The Herald Bulletin

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September 6, 2013

Court stops Montana judge from undoing rape sentence

(Continued)

BILLINGS, Mont. —

The judge also seemed to affix some degree of blame for the original sentence on prosecutors, because they did not immediately raise objections to his actions at the Aug. 26 hearing.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said in response that his office had sought 20 years in prison for Rambold with 10 years suspended, and it was up to the judge to make a final determination that day.

Rambold will continue to serve out the original sentence while the appeal is pending, Twito said. That means he will be released from prison late next month but remain under probation and have to register as a sex offender.

Activists who pushed for Baugh to resign or be removed from the bench said Friday those efforts would continue.

"He took no responsibility, no ownership. He blamed the state, blamed the prosecutor," said Marian Bradley, president of the Montana National Organization for Women. She said his earlier comments "tell women it's not OK to step forward, because even if you do, you could be knocked down by a judge."

Moralez's mother, Auliea Hanlon, said through her attorney that she was pleased the appeal can now move forward.

Baugh told The Associated Press he had "tried to do the right thing."

"I've said what I can say. Those people that disagree with it are always going to disagree with it," he said.

University of Montana School of Law professor Jeffrey Renz said the state had law on its side in arguing Baugh's attempt to unilaterally change Rambold's sentence violated proper procedures. But as a practical matter, Rambold likely will return to Baugh's courtroom one way or another, since the state Supreme Court would remand the case back to the judge to fix any sentencing problems, Renz said.

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