Galenski sentenced to 30 years

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Defense expects to appeal

By Amber Coulter

A man convicted of complicity to commit  murder of a Louisville teenager found dead off Ky. 313 near Radcliff was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in prison.

Connor J. Galenski was found guilty by a jury May 17 for firing the first shot in a series that left Mackenzie Smyser, 18, dead.

Defense attorney Rick Hardin said he and Galenski plan to appeal the ruling, possibly Friday.

Hardin Circuit Judge Kelly Mark Easton said appeals must be made within 30 days of a ruling in most circumstances. The length of Galenski’s sentence means any appeal would go to the state’s Supreme Court, rather than an appeals court.

Hardin wouldn’t comment on the grounds of his appeal and said his reasons should become clearer when he files the appeal.

Galenski’s father, Mar-io, said he supports the appeal because his son’s conviction was based on a coerced confession.

“Hopefully, eventually justice will prevail,” Mario Galenski said.

Connor Galenski is one of three teenagers accused in the shooting death. Police said Ryan Wilt, Jason Gowers and Galenski drove Smyser to a gravel road off Ky. 313 near Radcliff under the guise of committing an armed robbery.

Wilt and Gowers pleaded guilty in 2011 to complicity to commit murder. Both accepted plea deals of 30 years in prison.

The jury recommended last month that Galenski be sentenced to 30 years to  serve concurrently with a five-year sentence from  October, when a jury convicted him of tampering with physical evidence. That jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the murder charge.

Hardin said jury members were clear they thought the men should have the same punishment.

Heather Paynter, assistant commonwealth’s attorney, recommended Galenski’s sentences be served consecutively because unlike Wilt and Gowers, he did not accept responsibility for his actions.

Paynter had no comment about Galenski’s sentencing.

Easton said he is always hesitant to give a sentence other than that recommended by a jury and  doesn’t want to punish a defendant for exercising the right to a trial, so he accepted the jury’s recommendation.

He said Galenski’s actions fit the definition of complicity to commit murder, so it made sense that his sentence be similar to the other two men involved.

“Without any one of these three, I don’t believe Mackenzie Smyser would be dead today, and it’s because of the conduct of all three,” he said.

Smyser and the three men convicted of killing him were young, Easton said.

“We don’t know what would have happened with his life, but we do know what’s going to happen with the lives of the three men who are equally responsible for taking his life,” he said.

Smyser’s father, Jerome, said his family is happy   Galenski was convicted, but his son is gone forever.

“Nothing good has come out of it,” he said. “We just finally got satisfaction for our son.”

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.