Sioux Falls man sentenced to 50 years for molesting 7-year-old
A Sioux Falls man convicted of molesting his friend's 7-year-old son was sentenced to 50 years in prison Monday.
A jury convicted Steven Brende, 55, on May 4 and he was sentenced Monday after a psychosexual evaluation.
In court, Brende still claimed he did not hurt the victim. Brende told the court he loved the kid and would never hurt him. Brende said he is very sorry about what happened but said he did not commit the crime.
"God honest truth I did no wrong! I'm being sentenced to hell for something I did not do," Brende said.
Brende's defense said he has a lack of understanding to the charges and what was going on throughout the trial. The defense also claimed there was a lack of evidence of abuse or witnesses to any sexual encounter.
However, prosecutors contested what the defense was calling a lack of evidence. The State said Brende should remember the victim was able to recount the things Brende did to the victim and in disturbing detail.
"The victim had more courage than the defendant Mr. Brende. He continues to deny what he's done and can't take responsibility," Prosecutor Tom Hensley said.
The victim's family was also present in the courtroom on Monday. The victim's mother noted the family was once friends with Brende and he was considered part of their family until the incident.
"You are a disgrace to society and our family. You have been forgotten. Even though you hurt him he didn't want to hurt you," Vernita Ihnen said.
At one point Brende asked for the death penalty saying he did not want to live in a world where innocent men are put in prison. The defense asked the court to impose a lesser sentence due to the lack of physical evidence.
The defense said even with a minimal sentence Brende will spend the majority of his remaining years behind bars. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of sexual contact with a child. Each sentence will run concurrent.