Published July 22. 2010 12:27PM Updated July 22. 2010 12:37PM
A teenager who became entangled with sexual predator George M. Leniart four years ago and committed a crime eerily similar to those committed by Leniart has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Casey Lyons, 19, of Deposit, N.Y., who initially rejected a plea offer from the state, changed his mind as jury selection got underway in May and pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting and choking a 17-year-old girl to unconsciousness. Lyons had come to Montville in 2006 and was working construction with Leniart when he met the victim. Leniart has since been convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing April Dawn Pennington in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison. Leniart was previously convicted of sexually assaulting another teenage girl and choking her until she was unconscious.
At Lyons’ sentencing today, prosecutor John P. Gravalec-Pannone said the girl is moving on with her life and that she hopes Lyons can do the same.
“He’s still young enough to overcome whatever occurred between him and Mr. Leniart and move on with his life,” Pannone said.
Lyons was prepared to testify at the Leniart trial this spring but changed his mind after he was escorted past Leniart and seated on the witness stand. In his sexual assault case, he has been defended by attorney Richard Kelly and assisted by attorney Bernard Steadman, who was appointed as his guardian ad litem because of his age at the time of arrest. Both of them said Lyons has matured while his case was pending and that they have hope for his future. Lyons received his GED at the Manson Youth Institute.
“I’ve come to view him as an intelligent person, not someone who’s going to be a drip for the rest of his life,” Kelly said.
Lyons has already been incarcerated for nearly three years. When he is released from prison, he will be on strict probation for 10 years and is required to register as a sex offender.