Diviney attacker denied prison release
Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 23:05
Austin Vantrease, one of the two convicted attackers of Ryan Diviney, was denied a request to enter a correctional program, a judge decided Monday.
Diviney, a former West Virginia University student who was attacked in the parking lot of the Willey Street Dairy Mart on Nov. 7, 2009, remains in a coma-like state in his parents' home in Ashburn, Va.
According to a post Tuesday, on Ryan's father Ken's blog, Judge Russell Clawges denied the request of Vantrease, 19, of Newark, Del., during a hearing based on lack of any new evidence.
Ken speculated on his blog that Vantrease's legal council had requested the transfer in order to be able to appeal the ruling to the West Virginia Supreme Court.
Ken said in the blog he had spoken with the case's prosecuting attorney who confirmed his suspicions. Vantrease's lawyers preemptively filed an appeal prior to the hearing.
Jonathan May, according to the official transcript of his trial, was convicted of misdemeanor battery and sentenced to serve "no less than one year" in prison and to pay $75,000 in restitution, was released from prison after serving less than seven months.
Hannah Ellis, senior public relations major and friend of Ryan, said she felt May's release was unfair.
Ellis also called Vantrease's request to be transferred to the special correctional facility "offensive" and "ridiculous."
"It confuses me why Vantrease and his family think that what he did to Ryan doesn't deserve harsh punishment," she said. "It's time for Vantrease to realize the harm and damage that he has done to someone's life and serve his time."
Daniel Brewster, a sociology professor who has helped organize several fundraisers in support of the Diviney family, said he felt May's release was an example of the flaws in the American judicial system.
"Our criminal justice system seems to ignore the crimes of individuals if, while in the prison system, they exhibit ‘good behavior'," he said. "The idea is that the person has so quickly been rehabilitated that they can go back into society, thus again making the victim's family feel slighted by the system."
Brewster, who attended May's trial, said the "light" sentencing May received did not surprise him.
"I feel like the more affluent (May) family was able to get a better attorney who was able to sway the uneducated jury in a way that made Jonathan seem less culpable," he said.
Brewster said he felt both men should remain in prison until Ryan is able to make a full recovery.
"May will be able to enjoy his summer with his friends and family, whether it be taking trips to the beach or
enjoying the warm weather. Ryan, on the other hand, will most likely not be able to enjoy his summer," Ellis said.
On April 19, Ken posted an update on his blog about Ryan's condition. According to the post, recent brain scans have shown signs of improvement.
Ellis said she regularly visits Ryan at his parents' home.
"He is fighting like hell to wake up," Ellis said. "All I know is that Ryan has all of the love and support he could ever need, and when he wakes up we will all be by his side cheering for him on the road to recovery."