The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 8, 2013

Sex offender asks judge to modify home confinement

By Carra Higgins
Register-Herald Reporter

— Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick Thursday took under advisement a request to modify some terms of home confinement for confessed sex offender Ricardo Putiyon.

The nearly 79-year-old Putiyon, on behalf of his counsel, John Wooton, asked the court to decrease the out of pocket cost of his home confinement from $18 to $5 per day; allow him to accompany his wife to medical appointments; and attend church services on Sundays.

Wooton explained that the $18 per day is a strain on Putiyon’s finances, his wife is ill and being able to attend church services should be considered as a First Amendment issue, citing a recent federal court ruling. The court was provided with Putiyon’s income and expenses and Kirkpatrick said he would review the federal court case discussed by Wooton.

Also, Wooton argued that Putiyon has completed a sex offender treatment program, was discharged and deemed to have made changes in his behavior with a low risk of repeating a sex-related crime.

Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller told Kirkpatrick that the state objects to the motions made by Wooton, arguing that in 2009 Putiyon pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian and two counts of first degree sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl.

Keller explained that had Putiyon been convicted, he could have been sentenced to 65 to 145 years in a penitentiary. Furthermore, Putiyon has a history of requesting modifications to his home confinement, which is not supposed to be a “pleasant” experience, she added.

Putiyon, however, has never previously asked to attend religious services.

“The state has a duty to protect children,” Keller told the court.

Keller said the state is “offended” that Putiyon would ask for a lower cost for home confinement and suggested that if the daily cost was too much of a burden, he could live in the penitentiary “for free.”

Keller cited a ruling by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, which states that the state is not infringing on an individual’s right to worship in his or her own home and that church services can be watched on television or heard over the radio.

Keller also said that in her previous experience with the case, Putiyon seems to have a supportive family, any one of whom she is certain would be willing to attend doctor’s appointments with his wife.

Wooton said because Putiyon is Catholic, consideration to attend services outside of the home should be given because of the religion’s confession aspect. Putiyon’s attorney added that his client did spend approximately 13 months in prison before going on home confinement.

In addition to the court cases cited by Wooton and Keller, Kirkpatrick said he will review an affidavit of Putiyon’s income and a price scale for how much a person should pay for home confinement based on income. Kirkpatrick did not set a date to make his ruling.

— E-mail: chiggins@register-herald.com