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Kirby gets maximum sentence in Leslie Buck kidnapping

A Superior Court judge sentenced former Ledyard handyman Russell Kirby to the maximum of 21 years in prison this morning for the 2002 assault and kidnapping of Stonington teacher Leslie Buck.

Because Kirby has been in custody since his 2002 arrest, he will get credit for serving that time. That means his effective sentence is now 13 years. Kirby is 72 years old.

Two days after Buck escaped from Kirby, she was found dead in her Mystic home. Her husband Charles Buck, who has hired Kirby for odd jobs in the past, has been charged with her murder and is expected to go on trial later this year.

Kirby was convicted in February of second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault.

“This crime was a very heinous crime, it traumatized her and it terrorized her,” prosecutor Paul Narducci told Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed when asking for the maximum sentence. “I can’t imagine a more horrific situation than what Mrs. Buck went through that night.”

Leslie Buck, 57, told police that Kirby had accosted her in her garage at 77 Masons Island Road, used a stun gun to subdue her, threw her to the floor and bound her wrists before driving around with her in her car. Buck escaped after Kirby got out of the car to investigate a problem with the vehicle. She was able to loosen the ropes on her wrists and use a spare key to drive off.

It was the second time the 72-year-old Kirby had been convicted in connection with the May 2002 incident.

A jury first convicted him of kidnapping in July 2004 and he was sentenced to 21 years in prison. The state Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2006, saying a 911 call and statements made by Buck should not have been allowed in court because Kirby did not have the opportunity to face his accuser and cross-examine her in court.

Kirby, who has been in custody since his arrest the night of the incident, then rejected the state’s offer to plead guilty in exchange for a 12-year prison sentence and was put on trial again.

This time the prosecutors presented their case without the 911 tapes or Leslie Buck’s statements, focusing instead on testimony from witnesses, including a police officer to whom Kirby admitted the crimes, and on physical evidence such as a knapsack containing stun-guns, a .45-caliber pistol, ropes and other items.

Kirby testified, saying he had to restrain Leslie Buck after she attacked him with her purse and keys in a fit of rage over a $760 check that Buck’s husband had written Kirby from the couple’s joint account.

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