Idaho man given minimum prison sentence in child sex abuse case

Donavan Heath Burnside, 28, of Rigby, Idaho, sentenced to six years-to-life in prison Tuesday, April 1, 2014, for three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.

LOGAN — A 28-year-old Idaho man was given the minimum sentence of six years-to-life in prison Tuesday afternoon, after being found guilty of three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.

Donavan Heath Burnside of Rigby was sentenced by Judge Clint Judkins in 1st District Court to the three sentences, which will run concurrently.

Burnside showed no sign of emotion as the sentence was announced. He sat motionless next to his attorney and only moved in his chair once to turn around and see his family, who were seated behind him in the courtroom.

Before handing down the sentence, Judkins noted that Burnside did not have a previous criminal history, had graduated from high school and was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Judkins said it was illegal touching that Burnside was convicted of but no penetration occurred in the abuse.

State Attorney Spencer Walsh argued that Burnside should be given the maximum sentence and said he was disappointed in Judkins’ ruling.

“There’s a mandatory 15 years-to-life sentence,” said Walsh. “I do not understand why it would be in the interest of justice to reduce that down to six years-to-life.”

Walsh said he thinks the ruling sends the wrong message to the community about the serious nature of child sex abuse cases.

“Sexually abusing children, when you have a position of special trust and that young vulnerable victim experiences post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, depression,” said Walsh. “I think that is a very serious crime and I was disappointed in the sentence that was handed down.”

Walsh said Burnside repeatedly abused the seven-year-old girl, 10 or more times while babysitting her. The girl was the young daughter of a Utah couple he stayed with on the weekends.

In July 2013, a jury found Burnside guilty of three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

Judge Judkins retired in 2013 but oversaw the case and was assigned to rule on the sentence.

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