The former Scottsbluff High School golf coach who was sentenced to 24 to 32 years in prison for sexually assaulting two former athletes has had his conviction and sentence upheld by the Nebraska Court of Appeals.
63-year-old Mike Klein was convicted last October after pleading no contest to four charges of felony sexual assault. Klein argued to the high court that his sentences were excessive and that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel.
Today, the Court of Appeals said that his sentence was within the statutory limits for the four Class 2 felonies. They noted that despite no prior criminal history, the nature of his offenses warranted the prison sentences. The court also said that since Klein could have faced up to 50 years in prison on each count, the sentences imposed by Scotts Bluff County District Court were on the low end of the statutory sentencing range.
When addressing ineffective assistance of trial counsel, Klein cited failure to file a motion to recuse, failing to recommend a psycho-sexual offender evaluation prior to sentencing, failing to object to alleged inflammatory comments made by the state during sentencing, and representing Klein despite as conflict of interest as reasons for ineffective counsel.
The Court of Appeals cited the record before the court was insufficient to review Klein’s claim for failing to file a motion to recuse.
The high court said Klein’s claim for failing to recommend a psycho-sexual offender evaluation is without merit- mainly because he never revealed he suffers from a previously undetected mental illness.
On the claim that state made an inflammatory comment at sentencing, Klein says that being labeled a pedophile and sexual predator should have been objected. On their review, the court said even if trial counsel had objected, there is no reasonable probability that the outcome of the sentencing would have been different.
Lastly, because his attorney Tylor Petitt was a member of the Scotts Bluff Country Club, Klein claimed his lawyer should have known there could have potential liability in future civil litigation brought by the victims. The Court of Appeals said Klein failed to allege any ways in which the alleged conflict caused counsel to deficiently perform or prejudiced Klein.
The Court of Appeals concluded that there was no merit to the assignment of errors, and his convictions and sentences are affirmed.
Klein will not be eligible for parole until he is 74, which won’t be until 2029.