Woman’s life sentence reduced in 2014 Lawrence killing

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Sarah McLinn

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A woman serving a life sentence for killing a Lawrence man had her sentence reduced by 25 years on Tuesday after prosecutors and her defense attorney agreed she had received ineffective counsel during her 2015 trial.

Sarah Gonzales-McLinn, now 26, was sentenced in 2015 to 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of 52-year-old Harold Sasko.

Sasko lived with Gonzales-McLinn, who was 19 at the time of his death. Prosecutors said Gonzeles-McLinn drugged and bound Sasko before nearly decapitating him on the Jan. 17, 2014, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The agreement between the two attorneys acknowledged that Gonzales-McLinn’s counsel for the 2015 trial, attorney Carl Cornwell, was ineffective. He had counseled her to reject a plea agreement that would have included the “hard 25” sentence.

Gonzales-McLinn also argued in an appeal of her sentence that Cornwell should have pursued a “battered woman syndrome” defense. She and family members contended Sasko was abusing Gonzeles-McLinn.

In a letter to the court, Sasko’s daughter rejected those allegations. But in another letter, his siblings said he was a kind man who was trying to help Gonzales-McLinn but they agreed with the sentence reduction.

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