Denver, CO – Denver District Attorney Beth McCann teamed up with a convicted cop-killer’s defense attorney to push for a sentence reduction that will likely result in the defendant being released onto parole.
Raymond Gone, 42, was originally sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted of first-degree murder after deliberation and attempted aggravated motor vehicle theft in connection with the Feb. 25, 1995 execution of 28-year-old Denver Police Officer Shawn Leinen, The Denver Post reported.
Officer Leinen, a three-year veteran-of-the-force, was responding to a report of shots fired that night when he observed Gone, then 16, breaking into a vehicle, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Gone took off running, so Officer Leinen chased after him.
When they reached a dead-end, the teen spun around and shot him twice in the chest, knocking him to the ground, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Although his ballistic vest stopped the bullets, Officer Leinen was momentarily stunned by the impacts.
Gone used that opportunity to stand over him and fire a fatal round into the officer’s head, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Officer Leinen left behind his wife, Susan, who was six months pregnant with their son, Maxwell, when he was murdered, KUSA reported.
On Monday, McCann filed paperwork notifying the court that she agreed to vacate Gone’s convictions in exchange for him pleading guilty to felony murder committed without deliberation during the felony charge of escape, according to The Gazette.
The move landed him a 44-year prison sentence, with credit for the nearly 26 years he has already served, The Denver Post reported.
He will be eligible for parole long before he completes the sentence, although is exact parole date is yet to be determined.
McCann orchestrated the massive sentence-reduction deal despite pleas from Officer Leinen’s family to keep Gone behind bars, KUSA reported.
“He took the life of a son, brother, husband, dad, police officer, Shawn Leinen,” the slain officer’s brother-in-law, Steven Laughrey, wrote in a letter to the judge. “This man is still living and breathing and Shawn is not. He should not be allowed to be a member of the outside society. He knowingly pulled that trigger that night that took Shawn’s life. He consciously knew what he was doing.”
Laughrey said it is heartbreaking to know Maxwell will never get to meet his father.
“He looks like Shawn. He acts like Shawn. I know they would have been best friends,” he wrote, according to KUSA. “No child should have to grow up without a father.”
Susan’s longtime friend, Leann Webb Hvizd, told the judge that releasing the convicted killer would be a “roll of the dice” for the rest of society.
“If Gone is set free, this will set a horrible [precedent] for anyone in jail for killing an officer of the law,” Hvizd wrote, according to KUSA. “I hope all Denver Police Department officers are aware of this case and this hearing.”
But instead of listening to the requests of Officer Leinen’s friends and family, Denver District Court Judge Karen Brody sided with McCann and Gone’s attorney, Ann Roan, KUSA reported.
In addition to forgoing any requests for restitution, McCann told the court that Gone should be resentenced due to “extraordinary mitigating circumstances,” including his unstable childhood home environment, his age at the time of the murder, his family’s history of mental illness, and his undisruptive behavior in prison, KUSA reported.
Roan echoed the prosecution’s arguments and praised McCann and Brody for making sure her client will be able to walk out of prison in the future.
“The people who had the power, the District Attorney’s Office and the court, did justice, and I am incredibly grateful to them,” Roan told KUSA.
“There is no dispute that Mr. Gone caused officer Leinen’s death, but it was not with deliberation and was not a cold-blooded, calculated act,” she continued. “It was the hasty, impulsive, panicked act of a 16-year-old boy who had been in more of a war in those 16 years than most of us will ever be able to understand. At every point in his young life, the systems that are supposed to be in place to save children that are abused and neglected or horribly mistreated failed.”