The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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April 23, 2014

Prison term upheld for sex offender

EAST LACKAWANNOCK TOWNSHIP — A sex offender challenging a 4- to 8-year prison sentence for a probation violation lost an appeal of that sentence.

Billy R. Burtt, 23, formerly of Farrell and Ashtabula, Ohio, pleaded guilty Dec. 8, 2009, to a state police charge of aggravated indecent assault for sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl in 2008 in East Lackawannock Township.

He was sentenced March 31, 2010, to 1 year less 1 day to 2 years less 1 day in Mercer County Jail followed by 8 years’ probation.

The sentence was below guidelines, but Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Francis J. Fornelli said he was issuing a lenient sentence because Burtt had a low IQ and mental health issues that included suicide attempts, and was a victim of sexual abuse.

Burtt was paroled July 11, 2012, and a month and three days later an informant reported that Burtt had used the Internet to contact a 16-year-old girl from Grove City and a 17-year-old girl from the Ukraine.

His probation contract prohibited him from contacting anyone younger than 18.

At his resentence hearing Nov. 2, 2012, Burtt challenged the evidence – denying that he had admitted the violations to his parole agent – but Judge Robert G. Yeatts found that he had violated his probation and set the 4- to 8-year prison term.

In his notice of appeal, Burtt argued the sentence was excessive and improperly exceeded sentencing guidelines.

However, in his appeal brief, he argued the sentence was improper for a probation violation.

A three-judge panel of Superior Court said Tuesday that sentencing guidelines do not apply at a resentencing.

It also said Burtt waived his right to argue the illegality of the probation violation sentence because he did not first raise it with Yeatts. The court affirmed Yeatts’ decision.

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