Molester sentenced to 2nd life sentence
By Reggie Ellis
visalia – A Visalia child molester was sentenced to 232 years in prison last month, but he should have already been behind bars when the crimes were committed.
On July 20, Judge Joseph Kalashian sentenced Larry Sul, 64, of Visalia, to 232 years to life in prison for child molestation. A jury convicted Sul of two counts of forcible lewd act upon a child under the age of 14, and four counts of lewd act upon a child under the age of 14 on May 9, 2017. Each count is a felony. Sul admitted to having two prior strike convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and robbery, as well as four prior prison terms. The crimes occurred between 2013 and 2015 in Tulare County against a single minor victim. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Laura Jackson of the Crimes against Children Division and investigated by Katherine Porter of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations.
Assistant District Attorney David Alavezos said Sul was previously sentenced to life in prison in 1999 under the “Three Strikes” law. At the time of his sentencing for a drug crime, Sul had two prior felony or “strike” convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and robbery, as well as four prior prison terms.
But Sul become one of 3,000 felons serving life sentences who became eligible to petition the court for a new, reduced sentence following the passage of Proposition 36 in 2012. Because his third strike had been reclassified as a non-violent felony, the judge reduced his sentence to 13 years in prison. Sul was released in February 2013 after serving 13 years.
“He started committing these [child molestation] crimes within months of being released,” Alavezos said.
The proposition, which passed with nearly 70% of the statewide vote in 2012, amended the Three Strikes law so that only “serious or violent” crimes could constitute a life sentence under the law. Sul was sentenced to life this time because Prop. 36 maintained a life sentence penalty for felons with “non-serious, non-violent third strike if prior convictions were for rape, murder, or child molestation.”
“Had [Lopez] stayed in prison, this victim would not have become a victim,” Alavezos concluded about the recent sentencing,
Two other child molestation cases were in the news of late – one which is nearing the end and another that is just beginning.
On July 20, a Tulare County jury convicted a former middle school campus supervisor of 15 felony counts of child molestation. Luis Lopez, 30, of Dinuba, was found guilty of 11 counts of lewd acts upon a child age 14 and 15 and four counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14. The jury also found true the special allegation of substantial sexual conduct. Each count is a felony.
Eleven of the crimes occurred between March 19, 2013 and Feb. 3, 2014 against a female victim, who was between 14 and 15 years old at the time of the sexual assaults. The other four crimes occurred on Feb. 7, 2014 against a separate female victim, who was 13 years old at the time of the sexual assaults. All 15 crimes occurred at various locations of Valley Oak Middle School in Visalia during school hours.
Judge Kathryn Montejano will sentence Lopez on Sept. 1 in Department 10 of the Tulare County Superior Court. Lopez faces 21 years and four months in state prison. Lopez will also be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Chelsea Wayt of the Crimes against Children Division and investigated by Detective Matt Jones of the Visalia Police Department.
On July 26, an alleged child molester was arrested. Steven Wing, 64, of Visalia was arrested during a traffic stop at 8:30 a.m.
The arrest was the result of an investigation which determined that Wing, a convicted child molester, had sexually molested a young female juvenile multiple times over the last year and a half. Wing had previously been convicted of child molestation in 1985 and was currently a registered sex offender who was in compliance. Wing was booked into Tulare County Jail for multiple counts of Child Molestation. Anyone who has further information about Suspect Wing is asked to contact Detective Mona Whaley at 559-713-4211.