A man who admitted to having sex with an underage girl was sentenced to a term of imprisonment Thursday morning in Natrona County District Court.

Judge Catherine Wilking sentenced Marcus Christopher Jones to six to eight years in prison. Jones pleaded guilty in February to one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

Wilking included a recommendation for Jones to participate in the boot camp program, noting he could apply for a sentence reduction upon successful completion of the program.

"In this case, the victim was fourteen years old and Mr. Jones had sex with her on more than one occasion," Wilking said before sentencing Jones.

Assistant District Attorney Brett Johnson recommended Jones serve no prison time, but instead be placed on supervised probation for three years and spend time at the Casper Re-Entry Center with a suspended four- to five-year prison sentence.

Defense attorney Zak Szekely presented Wilking with two letters written in Jones' defense at Thursday's sentencing hearing. He also asked that Jones serve no prison time.

"My client's fairly young," Szekely said, adding that Jones has two children, one of them just a month old.

Szekely also told Wilking the victim asked that Jones not be sentenced to prison. The victim told police the sex was consensual, according to an affidavit.

"Part of why she wishes it didn't happen is the havoc it has caused between her and this man," Szekely said, arguing that sending Jones to prison would not be in the best interest of the community.

"I just plead that I get to go home tonight and see my kids," Jones told the court. "I just want to be able to take care of my kids."

Wilking, before sentencing Jones, noted that the Wyoming Legislature has provided for a maximum 20-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

She added that the law and sentencing option were established to protect victims, as children are incapable of protecting themselves in such cases.

Wilking also noted that nothing in state statute indicates a judge should consider any prior relationship with the victim nor the victim's consent as mitigating factors at sentencing.

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