The prison sentence for a Kansas City rap artist who shot a man at a Salina motel in June was suspended Friday, after Reginald “Dalima” Easterwood told a Saline County District Court judge he regretted hurting the man.
“I am very regretful and remorseful for anyone being hurt,” Easterwood said. “I’ve prayed about this situation.”
Judge Patrick Thompson suspended Easterwood’s 13-month prison sentence for one felony count of aggravated battery, but he imposed 60 days in jail as part of Easterwood’s two years of Community Corrections-supervised probation.
Thompson also ordered Easterwood, 32, to register as a violent offender for 15 years, undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation, and pay $20,674.32 in restitution for medical bills incurred by Shane Salyards, a transient from the southwest United States who had also been staying at the Howard Johnson’s motel, 222 E. Diamond, on June 28.
Thompson said that in making the decision to suspend Easterwood’s prison sentence, he decided it was more important to allow Easterwood, who had no prior felonies, to continue working to pay off the restitution and support his family than to make him serve prison time.
He chastised Easterwood for the “simply idiotic” decision to introduce a gun into a volatile situation in which everyone involved was intoxicated.
Saline County Attorney Ellen Mitchell said her only concern with the sentence is that it not send a message of leniency. “This is not a gun-toting, gun-pulling community, and guests in our community should not feel like they can do that,” she said.
Attorney William Dunn, who represented Easterwood, said his client was aiding a “damsel in distress.”
He said Easterwood and friends were hanging out at their motel after his performance earlier that evening at the Blacksmith Bar when they saw a woman later identified as Destiny Rice screaming in terror and pulling away from Salyards.
According to court documents, Salyards and Rice had been staying at Howard Johnson’s for about a month and a half, while Rice worked as a dancer at Wild Wild West Gentlemen’s Club. That night, they argued and Rice fled their room when she thought Salyards was going to strike her, she later told police.
Rice, who was wearing only a bra and underwear, ran by Easterwood and his friends to the lobby of the motel at about 3:50 a.m. Salyards attempted to get her to return to their room, and Easterwood and friends intervened on her behalf.
Easterwood said Friday that they attempted to convince the desk clerk to call 911, but he refused.
Easterwood followed Salyards to his room. When Salyards exited the room again, Easterwood drew a handgun from his waistband and shot Salyards in the abdomen.
In court, Easterwood said that when Salyards came out of his room he attacked him, prompting Easterwood to draw his gun.
“There was no way I could prepare for that situation,” he said.
Mitchell said she agreed to reduce the charge from attempted first-degree murder because she saw “red flags” with the victim’s account. She said she had concerns that Salyards was eager to testify because he “felt it was a way to make some money.”
“The state is obligated to be fair,” she said. “We thought he may have exaggerated his account. The state has to weigh the credibility of the victim.”
According to court documents, Salyards claimed he lost an eye in a fall that occurred after the through-and-through bullet wound to his abdomen. He said the nerve damage caused by the shooting caused him to fall down a lot, and he sought $73,000 for medical bills. Mitchell said Salyards “goes to the emergency room almost weekly” and may be abusing pain medication.
Mitchell said she would ask the court to order Easterwood to pay only bills incurred for Easterwood’s care in Salina and to make payments directly to the hospital and care providers.