Judge upholds former BYU-Idaho student’s sentence for rape

Connor Hammond catches one last glimpse of his family before walking out of the courtroom before beginning his prison sentence in September for sex crimes involving a 14-year-old girl. | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

REXBURG — A district judge upheld his sentence handed down to the former Brigham Young University-Idaho student sentenced for rape last year.

In January, attorneys for 22-year-old Connor Hammond asked District Judge Steven Boyce to reconsider the four- to 10-year prison sentence handed down for the rape in September. But in a court order signed Friday, Boyce denied the motion to reconsider Hammond’s sentence, dashing Hammond’s hope to be released on probation rather than serve more time in prison.

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“The court concludes that its original sentence is not excessive nor is the sentence improper,” Boyce wrote in the six-page opinion. “Furthermore, the sentence serves to deter or prevent any future sexual misconduct on the part of Hammond and serves to deter society from such acts.”

Hammond pleaded guilty to felony rape where the victim is under 16 and two felony counts of lewd conduct with a minor in July 2019. According to court documents, the former Brigham Young University-Idaho student engaged in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl in early 2019.

During a March 2 hearing, Boyce heard arguments from both Hammond’s attorney, Kristopher Meek, and Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood to reconsider the sentence. At this hearing, Meek presented additional confessions by Hammond of illegal sexual activity.

Meek wanted to show Hammond’s willingness to make a full confession about other possible criminal activity. These potentially illegal sexual activities came to light during a second polygraph test administered after his sentencing. His first polygraph, given before sentencing, revealed Hammond tried to deceive investigators.

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Boyce wrote the fact Hammond disclosed more illegal sexual activity does not persuade him to give a more lenient sentence.

Meek also argued that the sentence Boyce handed down to Hammond was overly harsh, while providing data from other cases in Idaho. His goal was to show others who had committed similar crimes had not been sent to prison.

Boyce didn’t buy the argument, saying the statistics given were not “accurately representing” crimes similar to ones committed by Hammond.

Boyce affirmed that most similar cases received an average of five years in prison, which discredited Meek’s argument.

“The court also admonishes counsel (Meek) against presenting such misleading and inaccurate argument in future proceedings,” Boyce wrote in the opinion.

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Hammond won’t be eligible for parole until February 2023, according to the Idaho Department of Correction. He remains held at the Idaho correctional institution in Orofino.

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