A former Big Spring radio personality who pleaded guilty to a single charge of online solicitation of a minor and was sentenced to six years in prison in 118th District Court Friday, was unsuccessful in an attempt to hang himself later in the day, officials said.
Kyle Wade Guthrie, 28, formerly of 408 Hillside Dr. who most recently had been residing in Wichita Falls, was rushed from the Howard County Detention Center by EMS to Scenic Mountain Medical Center. No details about the attempt were released, other than it occurred at 4:58 p.m.
Guthrie was released back into custody of the detention center after being treated.
“Due to the quick response of the detention staff, Guthrie’s attempt was averted,” Howard County Sheriff Stan Parker said in a news release.
Guthrie had been indicted in early June on a charge of online solicitation of a minor, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
He had been arrested Feb. 7 by law enforcement officials with the Howard County Sheriff’s Department after the 16-year-old victim’s grandmother provided deputies with information Guthrie had been pursuing an inappropriate relationship with her granddaughter.
Search warrants were executed at Guthrie’s home and a number of electronic devices were seized, according to HCSO officials.
Guthrie waived his right to a jury trial, opting instead to leave his fate in the hands of 118th District Court Judge Timothy Yeats, who presided over Friday’s the trial.
The prosecution — led by District Attorney Hardy Wilkerson — called several witnesses, including the victim’s grandmother, who described Guthrie as a friend of the family. She testified Guthrie and her granddaughter began text messaging one another, racking up more than 2,000 messages in a two-week period. According to her testimony, she warned Guthrie her granddaughter was only 16 years old.
The prosecution also called one of the victim’s high school friends, who testified the victim showed her a text message in which Guthrie told the girl he wanted to kiss her. Disturbed by the discovery, the girl then told her father what she had seen and what she believed to be going on between the victim and Guthrie, at which time he confronted the 28-year-old man.
“Kyle agreed that he had sent the text to (victim’s name omitted),” the father testified. “I reminded him what all he had to lose, his marriage and his child. He thanked me for being a friend and coming to him, then said he wouldn’t have any more contact with (the victim). I told him I wasn’t there to speak to him as a friend, I was there as a father.”
Despite the confrontation, investigators with the HCSO would testify Guthrie continued to contact the victim, this time by way of the social networking site Facebook. Sgt. Jesse Metcalf testified Guthrie also began to try to cover his tracks at that time.
“The victim said he (Guthrie) instructed her to delete everything so there would be no record of their communication,” Metcalf said. “He continued to contact the victim, however, all the way up to Feb. 6, which is when the search warrant was executed.”
According to investigators, Guthrie was questioned for more than hour, during which he denied any inappropriate contact with the victim. However, shortly after the first round of questioning, the defendant asked to speak to Sheriff Stan Parker, who also testified during Friday’s trial.
The prosecution played video footage from the interrogation room where Guthrie met with Parker and Metcalf and, after questioning, admitted the communications with the 16-year-old victim were sexual in nature. According to Guthrie’s testimony, the victim had described the dimensions of her body, while he had commented on his own sexual masculinity.
Guthrie admitted that he had talked about having sex with the teen and had even gotten to the stage of planning a rendezvous at a Super Bowl party being held at a mutual friend’s home, but the two had never come into sexual contact with one another.
Wilkerson elected not to call the victim to the stand, citing hopes not to further traumatize the teen. Moments later, the prosecution rested its case.
Guthrie’s attorney, John Young, began calling witnesses to the stand, including Guthrie’s grandmother, estranged mother and several family members and friends to testify to the character of the defendant. Young also questioned witnesses regarding the defendant’s mental health and early years, both of which the attorney presented as mitigating factors in the case.
Both sides presented closing arguments in the case — with an animated and emotional Wilkerson saying his office was firmly against Guthrie receiving deferred adjudication or probation as a punishment — after which Yeats retired to his chambers to review the case, which included a pre-sentencing brief outlining other brushes the defendant had with the law.
According to testimony, Guthrie was arrested in 2005 on a charge of falsely identifying himself as a police officer, a felony. The defendant pleaded guilty to a lesser charge — a misdemeanor — and received probation. During his testimony, Guthrie admitted to using a fake law enforcement badge and a fake gun during the crime.
Guthrie was also questioned regarding allegations in 2002 — at which time he was approximately 19 years old — and was having sexual relations with a girl more than three years his junior.
After reviewing the case, Yeats returned with the sentence.
“This is a heartbreaking case on so many different levels,” Yeats said prior to delivering the sentence. “This has affected so many different people, from the victim and her family and friends, to your own family and loved ones.
“There are a number of things about this case that trouble me, Mr. Guthrie. Despite having warnings, you didn’t stop the contact. You even told the father who confronted you about it he had ‘your word.’ However, you didn’t stop.”
Guthrie must serve a minimum of 25 percent of the sentence before he will be eligible for parole, however, Wilkerson said that is a far cry from a guarantee the 28-year-old man will be out any time soon.
“For the most part, whenever sex is a part of the conviction, most of those sentenced are doing the majority of their sentence,” Wilkerson said. “He may be eligible for parole in 18 months, but being eligible is a long way away from actually being released.”