June 4, 2020

Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–A judge has denied a motion for a reduced sentence for a man charged with killing a Watertown teenager in 2017.

Alexis Velazquez Sanchez, who was 31 years-old at the time, pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the death of 17 year-old Jayden Harley on June 10, ,2017 in a dispute that police say rose from a noise complaint.

Harley was shot to death.

Velazquez Sanchez was sentenced to fifty years in prison, with ten years suspended. He’s required to serve at least 50-percent of his sentence before becoming eligibe for parole.

Defense attorney Scott Bratland asked for a reduced sentence on the grounds that Velazquez Sanchez has been a model prisoner, is extremely remorseful, has completed anger management classes, and has not been receiving mental health services in prison as ordered by the court.

In a letter to the court, Harley’s mother, Amanda Woodland, wrote that since the day her son was killed, her life has been, “flipped and turned and twisted.” She wrote that her son, “was senselessly murdered!”

Velazquez Sanchez had served two tours in Iraq, and was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A mental health professional testified at trial that the diagnosis affected the defendant’s judgement on the night of the killing. In his letter to the court, he wrote that his goal, if he were to receive a reduced sentence, was to get a college degree. He wrote, “only God and I know how remorseful I feel.”

The motion for a reduced sentence was denied by Judge Carmen Means, who said she spent a long time thinking about the case, both before and after she initially senctenced Velazquez Sanchez,, but felt the original sentence given in this case is the appropriate one.