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Barker sentenced to 25 years in prison

As family and friends read impact statements at the sentencing of Thomas Barker Friday morning in Douglas County District Court, Jasmine Block sat with her head down, unable to look at Barker, one of three men charged in her kidnapping.

It was her first time in the courtroom.

Block, who is now 16, escaped from the three men after being held captive for 29 days. She was taken from her Alexandria home in August 2017.

In July, Barker, 33, of Carlos, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree with a dangerous weapon and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree causing fear of great bodily harm. All are felony-level charges.

Judge Timothy Churchwell sentenced Barker to 98 months for kidnapping, 156 months for one criminal sexual conduct charge and 300 months for the other criminal sexual conduct charge.

All three sentences are to be served concurrently, which means he is sentenced to a total of 300 months (25 years). He is also required to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life, and after his release will be on lifetime probation.

In addition, when he is to be released from prison, a petition can be filed to have Barker civilly committed, which means if the conditions are met, he would be sent back to prison for life.

“It’s hard being in the courtroom,” said Sarah Block, Jasmine’s mother. “This has been a very long process and we are glad to be done.”

Sarah Block said that along with Jasmine and the rest of their family and friends, she wishes he would have gotten a longer sentence. She said her daughter has to struggle with this for the rest of her life.

“We all have a lifetime of dealing with this,” she said.

Jasmine’s voice is heard

In a letter written by Jasmine Block and read by her mother in court on Friday, Jasmine wrote, “Dear Thomas, I think you’re sick. You make me sick to my stomach. My life will never be the same…”

She said she is always scared some guy is going to kidnap her. She told Barker the things that were done to her terrify her. She said she just wants her happy life back and for people to stop calling her names because it was not her fault for what happened. She said she is scared, has bad dreams and doesn’t know who she can trust.

Jasmine also told Barker that she hopes he has a good life without nightmares or worrying that bad stuff is going to happen to him.

“I just want to go a day without thinking about it, but I can’t,” she wrote in her letter.

Sarah speaks out

Sarah Block had also prepared a statement, which she read aloud in the courtroom. She began by thanking the court, Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson and law enforcement officials that worked the case.

“This has been a very long road and I am glad it’s coming to an end,” she said. “I will be thankful to not have to be in the same room again with the person who took my daughter and hurt her.”

In her statement, Sarah Block said she has known Barker since her children were babies and that he was someone she could trust, but he broke that trust and used that trust, along with her daughter’s caring nature, to lure her into his vehicle the night she disappeared.

“It’s every parent’s worst fear to have a missing child or a hurt child and I lived that nightmare for 29 days. No one should ever go through this.”

Sarah Block told Barker that knowing she can’t ever take away her daughter’s pain hurts and that they don’t feel safe anymore.

In her lengthy statement, Sarah shared a lot, and said there were so many more things she wanted to say but that Barker wasn’t worth any more of her time. She told him, however, that he will not win.

“We are stronger. Through God and his strength, we will get through this and we will win,” she said. “Some day, your day of judgement will come. I really hope you think long and hard about all this… I can never forgive or forget what happened.”

Family and friends share

Four others read statements during the sentencing hearing – Karen Block, Lukas Woods, Betty Block and Abigail Block.

Karen Block, Sarah’s mother, read a statement on behalf of Jasmine’s sister, Paige Coyer. In the statement, Paige said she had no words for the men who took her sister. She hopes that Barker sits in jail and wonders why he did this.

Woods, Jasmine’s friend, said the actions of the men were unforgivable.

“You disgust me and you are sick,” he said to Barker. “We will never forgive and I hope today they (the Block family) can find peace and closure.”

Betty Block said the depth of her anger is greater than any other emotion. She said the mental turmoil for Jasmine, her step-granddaughter, is unbearable. She said the images and scenes stored in Jasmine’s mind during those 29 days she was missing will be playing over and over in her head.

“I am deeply saddened and it just breaks my heart,” Betty Block said. “What happened to her was inhumanly vile.”

Abigail Block, Jasmine’s sister, read on behalf of Heidi Dummer, a family friend. She said there are no excuses for what happened. Her hope is that in time, Barker will find Jesus and that he will be forgiven. She called Jasmine Block a true warrior and said both Jasmine and Sarah are awesome and strong.

The other two

Joshua Holby, 32, of Carlos, pleaded guilty in September to two counts of kidnapping, a felony-level offense. Under the guidelines and because he has no prior criminal record, Holby is expected to be sentenced to 86 months (roughly seven years) in prison. His sentencing hearing is set for Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 1:30 p.m.

Steven Powers, 21, of Mankato, entered a guilty plea Nov. 28. An amended complaint was filed with the court that dropped Powers’ criminal sexual conduct charge from count one to count two, a lesser charge.

While in court, he pleaded guilty to the amended charge and also to the charge of kidnapping. He is expected to be sentenced to 104 months (about eight and a half years) in prison. His sentencing is set for Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 1:30 p.m.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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