Silence stretched across a Washington County Common Pleas Courtroom Friday morning as the onlookers did the math on the sentences handed down to a Marietta man accused of sexually assaulting a juvenile relative.
Two consecutive 54-month sentences added up to nine years in prison for Daniel R. Hess, 46, of 728 Mount Tom Road.
A jury found Hess guilty in January of two counts of sexual battery, both third-degree felonies, for a series of sexual encounters that he and his live-in girlfriend, Lacey K. Day, 31, had with the 15-year-old female family member in early 2010.
Hess' behavior during sentencing was in stark contrast to Day's demeanor during her own sentencing last year.
Day, who pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual battery, sobbed uncontrollably and made a barely audible statement to the court before being sentenced in August to two years in prison.
Hess made no statement and appeared apathetic throughout the proceedings.
In handing down his sentence, Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth noted that Hess has not shown remorse for his actions.
In fact, Hess still maintains that he never did anything inappropriate, pointed out Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings.
During trial, Hess denied touching the girl. Instead, he argued that he is a psychic vampire and therefore able to engage in the psychic transfer of sexual energy.
However, the victim recounted during the trial at least three separate instances of touching, fondling and sexual intercourse.
It took the jury less than an hour to return both guilty verdicts, noted Rings.
The victim, who was in court Friday, did not make a statement. However, she had turned in a written statement prior to sentencing.
"He persuaded her that having sex with him was necessary and unavoidable. She feared the consequences of not doing what she was told," said Burnworth, recapping her testimony.
Burnworth had the option to run the sentences concurrently, but doing so would not reflect the severity of the crime, argued Rings.
"(The victim) did suffer serious psychological harm as well as physical harm. She began to shut down physically because of the stress," he said.
Rings recommended an overall sentence of at least eight years.
Hess' public defense attorney Jack Blakeslee noted that Hess is a veteran who was honorably discharged from the Navy and that he scored as a low risk on his Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS) evaluation.
"I ask that those factors be taken into consideration," he said.
Burnworth noted those points but ultimately sentenced Hess to nine years, one year short of the maximum he could have faced.
"The harm you caused your own (relative) is appalling and horrific, not only to the court but to the morals of society," he said.
Burnworth also ordered $2,839 in restitution, to be paid by Hess and Day for the victim's medical bills.
Blakeslee initially objected to the restitution order, saying he had not seen documentation, but Hess indicated that he would waive further hearings on the matter.
Blakeslee also objected to Hess having to pay court costs.
"My client will be in prison for 108 months. He is indigent," he said.
However, Burnworth said he could pay the fees after his sentence is complete.
Hess will get credit for 347 days served, said Burnworth.
He is also now a registered tier three sex offender with a child victim and is mandated to report to a local law enforcement agency every three months for the rest of his life.
The victim said she was happy with the sentence.
"It's been a long time coming, but we're happy," added the victim's mother, after the hearing.
However, Hess does plan to appeal his guilty convictions, Blakeslee said.