By Jordan Achs, Laramie Boomerang
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
LARAMIE — Former University of Wyoming football player Carl Granderson has been released from the Albany County Detention Center after he was granted a reduced sentence by Campbell County district court judge John Perry in a Monday ruling.
Granderson will now serve one year of supervised probation.
He was sentenced to six months in jail by Albany County district court judge Tori Kricken after pleading no contest to two misdemeanors, one count of unlawful contact and one count of sexual battery.
The appeal of his sentence was transferred to Perry after Granderson’s attorney accused Kricken of handing down an “illegal sentence” for voiding the defendant’s plea deal.
Before Granderson was released, Kricken’s sentence had him scheduled to be released from jail in January. Her sentence rejected a plea agreement calling for one year of supervised probation.
Granderson was originally charged with third-degree sexual assault and sexual battery in February after two victims came forward in November to report Granderson had molested them while they slept at his off-campus apartment the day after UW’s football season ended.
Late last month, Granderson’s attorney Megan Goetz appealed the case to the Wyoming Supreme Court. Additionally, during an August 19 hearing, Goetz filed a motion to allow Granderson to withdraw his pleas and to grant him a new trial, alleging that “manifest injustice” had occurred in the case after Kricken was found to have had an ex parte communication with a mental health counselor retained by Granderson.
In a previous filing, Goetz said that Kricken made a phone call shortly before the sentencing proceedings to Granderson’s therapist, Martha Nesslinger, who was called to testify at the Aug. 19 motion hearing. According to the memorandum, Nesslinger testified that Kricken asked her if she had received information about any other inappropriate sexual encounters Granderson may have had and answered that she did not.
“The judge did not have this conversation with either party nor put the fact that the ex parte call occurred or the information learned in the call on the record,” Goetz wrote.
In his ruling, Perry wrote the court “examined every aspect of the matters leading up to sentencing” including “all testimony, victim impact statements and pleadings” as well as the ex parte communication. Based on the information examined by the court, the information gained from the ex parte communication was not damaging to the defendant.
“However, that fact simply does not matter,” he added.
Regardless of what information was gained, Perry wrote the communication “has cast a shadow over the sentencing proceedings and has the appearance of impropriety.”
Communication of this nature is “improper regardless — and even more so when instituted by the sitting judge,” he added.
The Laramie Boomerang reached out to Kricken’s office for comment, but a response was not received before press time Monday.
Due to the court’s findings, Granderson was granted relief via a motion to reduce sentencing under Federal Rule 35(b).
When making the determination, Perry wrote, he considered several factors, the foremost being Granderson being sentenced for two misdemeanors rather than a felony. Granderson has already served 43 days in the Albany County jail.
Perry also noted the rejected plea deal that was supported by the state, writing “mercy is never a vice.”
After reviewing the July sentencing, Perry modified the order of incarceration to suspend the sentence and place Granderson on one-year supervised probation. Granderson will also serve six months of probation concurrent to the year-long term for the second misdemeanor. The probation can be transferred to another state’s supervision, should the other state accept.
The former UW defensive end was signed to the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent this summer. He is listed on the reserve/did not report list and missed the first three games of the preseason. The Saint’s first game of the regular season is September 9.
Granderson’s motion to withdraw his no contest pleas was denied. He will have to pay all court-ordered financial obligations before February.
Perry’s ruling also noted his concerns about a few transcripts from the Aug. 19 hearing that are under seal.