LACONIA – Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O'Neill III yesterday rejected a negotiated plea with Barnstead native Kenneth Day, who allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulted his step-niece and step-nephew from the time they were 6 until they were 13, some 20 years ago.
Specifically, the state and the defense had agreed to have the 67-year-old Day serve two consecutive 10-20 year sentences for aggravated felonious sexual assault (rape) with the caveat that he could apply for parole after 16 years of time served, if he complied with all of the other orders.
Day was also sentenced to an additional 20 to 40 years — suspended — for two other aggravated felonious sexual assault charges.
According to Deputy Belknap County Prosecutor Carley Ahern, the two children — brother and sister — lived in Barnstead and Day, who was related to their step-father lived in a school bus on the same property. The alleged assaults took place between 1991 and 1998.
Ahern said he lured the children with Oreos and Pepsi and let them watch movies otherwise forbidden to them. Gradually, she said he began to touch them and have them perform fellatio on him.
She said the abuse escalated to the point where he would sexually assault the boy and force the two children to have sex with each other while he watched.
The two came forward about a year ago and reported the crimes to the Barnstead Police.
He is also accused of fondling a different child who was also a relative.
After hearing the plea deal, Day's alleged female victim told the judge that while she was thankful Day was getting punished, she felt he should never have a chance to see the outside of jail again.
She called him a "monster" and said he was a "sorry excuse" for a person. She said she will never be able to trust anyone again and her pain will never go away.
"I don't feel any program can help a monster like this," she said. "He doesn't deserve a deal."
She said his being in prison with a hot shower, food, and a television seemed like a vacation to her.
Ahern also read a statement from the boy, who stated he has been questioning his own life. To him the abuse is real and he needs it to be unreal.
The grandmother of the girl who was fondled, who is still a minor, spoke from her wheelchair. She said when the news broke about Day, she questioned her granddaughter who began crying and told her about being groped by him in the woods.
She called Day a "dog," said 16 years was too little time and that he deserves life.
"Throw him in a cage like the animal he is," she said. "Take the key and throw it away and leave him there."
Day's attorney, Wade Harwood, said Day wouldn't be eligible for parole until he was 83-years-old and that if he didn't take the sex offenders class and be on good behavior, he wouldn't qualify for parole at all.
"Prison is not exactly an easy place to grow old," Harwood said.
Harwood said Day was there to take responsibility for his actions and said he needs and wants help. Harwood also said Day faces similar charges in Merrimack County and could face more prison time stemming from them.
He said Day chooses not to put his victims through a trial and is more than just a pedophile. He said he was honorably discharged from the Navy and served three tours in Vietnam. Harwood also noted that Day worked at his own business until he retired at 52.
Day said only that he wanted to apologize for what he's done. He didn't look in the direction of the victims or their families while he spoke.
After Day spoke, the first female victim stood up again and told the court that if Day had really wanted help he could have gotten it. Instead he hunted children "over and over again."
"Absurd," she said describing the recommended sentence.
In rejecting the plea, O'Neill said he normally doesn't make recommendations but said he would accept a plea that didn't involve the potential of Day's release after 16 years.
Ahern and Harwood left the court room to renegotiate knowing the judge's recommendation but were unable to come to a resolution.
Although Ahern said she could be ready for trial by the second week in January, Harwood said he could not, so no trial date has been set.
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