COLUMBIA CITY — Emotions ran high from everyone involved prior to the expected century-long sentencing of an 18-year-old who admitted to killing a 14-year-old Whitley County girl in March of 2010.
“I still don’t know how this could happen in our community,” said Whitley Circuit Court Judge James Heuer after hearing testimony from both the prosecution and the defense in the sentencing hearing of Joshua M. Wright.
Wright pleaded guilty but mentally ill in court last month and agreed to a combined sentence for four crimes of 100 years.
He appeared this morning for sentencing by Heuer. The judge, who told the courtroom he’s about to begin his 20th year on the bench, said he never dreamed a case like this would come before him.
He addressed the family of the young victim, Kaylin Doggendorf, who was raped and killed in March of last year.
“I don’t know how you get up in the morning,” he said.
In the change of plea agreement entered into court in February, Wright, through his attorney Brad Voelz, pleaded guilty to murder, with an agreed sentence of 62 years; rape, a Class B felony with an agreed sentence of 18 years; burglary, a Class B felony with an agreed sentence of 18 years; and removal of a body, a Class D felony with an agreed sentence of two years.
Heuer agreed to the conditions and issued the agreed sentence with all four sentences to be served consecutively.
In exchange for the change of plea, the prosecution agreed to drop the felony murder charge and to not seek a life sentence without parole.
According to pre-sentence testimony by Chuck Vogely of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, Wright admitted to raping and killing Kaylin Doggendorf after submitting to a polygraph test during the investigation of the girl’s disappearance.
He then agreed to lead authorities to her body which was found in a briar patch located nearly equidistant from Wright’s house and the Doggendorf residence.
Prior to sentencing, Prosecuting Attorney Matt Rentschler called not only Vogely to the stand, but also family members, including Jason Doggendorf, Kaylin’s father and Linbeth Doggendorf, the victim’s mother.
In the crowded courtroom were other family members and friends of the victim from the Whiko school corporation.
“She was an amazing girl,” said Jason Doggendorf. “I have a hard time believing someone could do something like this to such a nice, sweet girl.”
Linbeth Doggendorf burst into tears on the stand. “I was looking forward to her being a mom,” she said.