TULSA, Okla. — Last month a jury convicted an Oklahoma man of first-degree rape and requested a 13-year prison sentence. However, instead of serving time in prison, Maliik Vance walked free with just probation after the judge overruled the jury on the sentencing decision. News on 6 reported that Tulsa County DA Steve Kunzweiler has no appeal—and he not happy with the judge’s sentencing.
“It sends a terrible message to victims out there and especially this particular victim after all she had been through,” Kunzweiler said. Kunzweiler explained how testifying is hard enough for victims. And that the judge’s decision to let Vance walk with only probation and no prison time, is a step in the wrong direction.
Kunzweiler also explained that “There is a number of different things that could be done, but to give somebody who is a convicted first-degree rapist total probation on a case in which 12 people found him guilty is unheard of at least in my career.”
In defying the jury, Tulsa County Judge Sharon Holmes chose to suspend the sentence of 23-year-old Vance.
But even more frustrating to the jury, witnesses—and the victim—Judge Holmes is not required to explain her decision.
Unfortunately, this is not Judge Holmes’ first brush with controversy. In 2019, police responded to her home regarding a possible assault with a knife. A relative told officers that Holmes allegedly fell on the knife. Shortly afterward, a police supervisor and leader with the Tulsa Police Black Officer’s Coalition arrived on the scene. He instructed investigating officers to classify the incident as ‘an accidental injury.‘
Investigators later determined Judge Holmes was stabbed by her daughter.