Man gets life in prison for kidnapping boy from church group
A 21-year-old Minden man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with parole eligibility after five years for kidnapping an 11-year-old boy from an outdoor church youth group.
District Judge Dave Gamble told Jacob Wilcher he had to take into account the “scariness and outrageousness” of the event.
On Sept. 11, 2011, Wilcher grabbed the victim from the group and ran around the side of the Lifepoint church building. By the time church members caught up with Wilcher, he had removed all his clothes and detained the boy.
The boy was released unharmed moments later.
Church officials attempted to apprehend Wilcher. He broke free, ran to his vehicle, and drove away.
A member of the congregation followed Wilcher in his vehicle until deputies were able to catch up and forced Wilcher’s vehicle from the road.
Wilcher made no statement on Tuesday, but testified at a hearing in June that he was afraid his mother would kick him out of the house, leaving him homeless, so he devised a plan to get arrested.
He denied that he knew the boy and had no sexual interest in the victim.
Gamble ruled at the time the incident was sexually motivated, and that Wilcher must be under lifetime supervision and register as a sex offender.
Wilcher’s lawyer, Tod Young, asked Tuesday that his client be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
“I can’t say there was no harm to this child. There was some trauma, but the child wasn’t physically harmed. The incident was bizarre. But the person who committed this offense was the unmedicated Mr. Wilcher,” Young said.
He said the crime was driven by mental illness.
“An important factor is that he (Wilcher) is compliant in taking his medication,” Young said. “So long as he complies, he won’t pose a danger.”
Gamble said he agreed that Wilcher on Tuesday – taking his medication – presented a very different defendant than when he was arrested almost a year ago.
“That’s the danger,” Gamble said. “We can’t keep him in our pocket. We can’t dispense his pills in a little cup every day of his life.
“What cannot be overlooked is the extraordinary danger, scariness and outrageousness of this offense.”
Despite the legislative constraints of the sentence, Gamble said it was incumbent on him to protect the community and advised Wilcher to continue to take his medication.
“Many people could have been killed,” Gamble said. “The only way to insure your safety or anyone else’s is for you to stay on your medication.”
Gamble gave him credit for 349 days in custody.
Wilcher has remained in Douglas County Jail since his arrest on more than $328,000 bail. He spent several months being evaluated at Lakes Crossing Center for the Mentally Disordered Offender. Wilcher was determined to be competent to aid in his defense with medication.
He rejected pleas of guilty but mentally ill, and not guilty by reason of insanity.
Wilcher originally was charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, open or gross lewdness, indecent exposure and attempting to elude a police officer.
In exchange for his guilty plea, the other charges were dropped and the state did not pursue a change of lewdness with a child under 14.