David Land Sentenced For Soliciting Teen Girls; Deputies Eject Man From Courtroom For Spiritual Outburst
David Land, who posed as a 13-year-old boy on an Internet chat site and solicited girls for sex, will spend one to four years in prison for third degree sexual abuse of a minor.
But before Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins could hand down the sentence on Friday, sheriff's deputies ejected one of Land's friends from the courtroom.
"We are all guilty of the same sin," shouted a man who had been sitting next to Land and praying with him.
The outburst happened after Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hambrick began her argument asking Sullins to reject a pre-sentence report that recommended probation for Land instead of prison.
The man, who had been on his knees in the front row, began to stand, picked up a brown cowboy hat with a cross on it, went into the aisle and raised his Bible over his head and began shouting.
A sheriff's deputy immediately approached him, told him he would go to jail if he didn't stop, and pushed him into the hall.
The man didn't stop shouting and began running down the hall. Other deputies followed.
He apparently ran to the first floor and kept shouting and repeating the name of Jesus.
Meanwhile, Hambrick told Sullins that Land deserved jail time
She cited testimony from agent Ryan Hieb of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, who works with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force.
Hieb told the court that his office received a tip last year about Land seeking pornographic pictures from a 15-year-old girl. Hieb found Land had an account on the social media website Meetme.com in his name and another one under the name "David Carson," in which he posed as a 13-year-old boy.
Land had engaged in sexually oriented conversations with about 50 girls ages 13 to 15 around Wyoming, including three in Casper, Hieb said.
Hambrick called Land a predator, and said he was dishonest with investigators.
Defense attorney Dylan Rosalez responded Land had accepted responsibility and entered an Alford plea in January. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to get a guilty verdict from a jury.
Land has had trouble with mental health issues, Rosalez said, adding Land could function in the community.
Land himself told the court he apologized for what he did.
Sullins said the pre-sentence investigation made a strong argument for probation, and mentioned that Land had a minimal criminal history.
But the judge agreed with the prosecution's recommendation for prison. "The conduct of Mr. Land is very shocking," Sullins said.
Land never had any sexual contact with any of the girls he contacted, Sullins said.
But prison was warranted for both punishment and to deter others from doing the same thing, "casting a net for young ladies in the community," Sullins said.