Man gets 20-year term in beating of quadriplegic woman, her friend

January 06, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A 30-year-old man convicted of beating a quadriplegic woman and her boyfriend with a brick-sized rock was sentenced yesterday to a 20-year prison term.

Kevin C. Laster and his attorney, Rodney Warren, had asked for a suspended sentence that would allow him to attend a "spiritual-based treatment" facility in Los Angeles.

But Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. said the attack on Dorothy Copley and Philip Atzert, her boyfriend, "calls out for punishment."

Laster entered an Alford plea to one count of attempted second-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault in September. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict.

Prosecutors said that Laster used the large rock to beat Copley while she was lying in bed in her Columbia apartment in August 1999 and hit Atzert when he tried to intervene; the assault was the culmination of a series of events that started with threatening phone calls from Laster, prosecutors said. Laster and Copley's sister, Tina, have two daughters and Laster repeatedly demanded to see Tina Copley during the incident, according to testimony.

Before his sentencing, Laster said he accepted "responsibility" for the assault and said that religion has become an important part of his life.

Prosecutor Mary Murphy said Copley, who did not attend yesterday's hearing, sent a letter to the court saying that she had forgiven Laster and that she felt he needed treatment.

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