Wellington resident Dwaine Stacey Shaw was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 30 years to life in 7th District Court Monday afternoon.
Shaw, 21, was taken into custody in May after he was connected to a crime just a few months before. On January 13, Shaw broke into a young woman’s Wellington apartment, and brutally assaulted and raped the victim at knife point. The victim struggled and was eventually able to break free from Shaw and report the crime. However, she was unable to identify him due to the clown mask used to disguise his features. Shaw was considered a person of interest, but police could not make an arrest until DNA evidence collected at the scene was investigated at the Utah State Crime Lab.
The defendant appeared before Judge Douglas B. Thomas, with little emotion or comment as to why he committed the crimes. During the court appearance all evidence was considered in the sentencing process including the mask, the knife, and a psychosexual evaluation meant to determine his risk of further offenses against the community. The evaluation was preformed to assist Judge Thomas in making a well-informed decision. The prosecution, represented by attorney Gene Strait, pushed for the defendant to receive the maximum penalty considering his premeditated actions, lack of an explanation and previous sexual offenses.
The victim in the case, Mercedes Larsen, then addressed the court.
“I believe he deserves the maximum penalty for the crimes Dwaine Stacey Shaw committed against me,” Larsen said in her statement to the court. “It is very hard to talk about what happened, and every time I do I’m taken back to that night.”
Larsen continued to list the damages she has suffered from the incident including a “loss of independence, faith, morals and safety,” and is now prescribed anxiety medication.
Strait addressed the court first to explain the severity of Shaw’s crimes and the depth of hisВ premeditatedВ act, saying the defendant needed toВ previouslyВ secure gloves from his place of employment, buy duct tape, secure the clown mask and the knife with which he threatened Larsen with. Shaw also went as far as to disable the victim’s porch light and practice unlocking the door with a credit card.
“The defendant not only caused the victim emotional and bodily harm, he threatened the young woman with a weapon to achieve what he wanted,” Strait said. “We are fortunate she was not seriously hurt.”
The prosecutionВ presented their terms for incarceration as follows:
1. AggravatedВ BurglaryВ – five years to life.
2. Rape – five years to life.
3. Forcible Sodomy – five years to life.
4.В AggravatedВ Kidnapping -15 years to life.
Strait concluded his initial statements by saying, “I see Mr. Shaw as a great danger to the public.”
The defense, represented by attorney David Allred, did not deny the acts that Shaw had committed, but wished to stress how Shaw had cooperated doing whatever he could to “eliminate any further stress on the victim.”
Allred also agreed that his client was not able to provide a reason behind his actions, only to “get back at her,” which Allred believes comes from further underlying problems from Shaw’s childhood. Allred expressed how Shaw was abandoned by his mother and suffered issues with depression and had received treatment for his previous offenses, both of which were committed while Shaw was a minor.
“The conditions with which my client suffers are treatable and if they had been addressed they may not have lead to his current actions,” Allred said.
Allred continued to stress his client’s suicidal thoughts expressed Shaw’s deeper issues. Strait responded with the argument that Shaw may be cooperative now, but this has only been since he was caught.
The defense’s argument did not persuade Judge Thomas in sentencing. The 30 years-to-life sentence was influenced by Shaw’sВ premeditation, the physical and emotional violence involved, and the results of the psychosexual evaluation which reported Shaw atВ moderately-high to high risk of becoming a repeat offender.
“The safety of the community must be considered, and some of the defendant’s conditions may be treatable, but the court believes this may take a considerable amount of time,” Thomas said.
Finally, the defendant’s previous offenses were taken into consideration.
“I hope you will come out on the other side as a changed man,” Thomas said.
Judge Thomas’s final comments were to the victim, Mercedes Larsen, commending her brave efforts.
“I would just like to let you know this was not your fault,”Thomas said. “You exhibited great courage andВ resourcefulnessВ during this event, and it is that strength andВ resourcefulnessВ which will allow you to move forward.”
It was decided the defendant would pay the victim $3,506.59 in restitution fees which could increase over the next 90 days.