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Man paralyzed in shooting appeals sentence for sex with teen neighbor

SALT LAKE CITY — Attorneys for a man paralyzed in a shooting and convicted of having sex with a teenage girl are appealing his consecutive prison sentences.

David Serbeck, 42, was sent to prison for up to 10 years in 2012 when a judge said he failed to "own up" to his actions. Serbeck was convicted of having sex three times with his teenage neighbor who would come to his house under the guise of seeing snakes the family kept as pets. The relationship ended after a friend discovered nude pictures on her phone and told her parents.

Now, he is asking for a new sentence based on claims that his attorneys at the time didn't argue against implications that he was stalking additional teenage girls when he was shot and paralyzed by an angry father.

When those allegations came up at trial, Serbeck wasn't asked directly whether he was stalking anyone that night, or whether he had had sexual encounters with the girls he spoke to, and therefore never got a chance to deny those allegations, defense attorney Nathalie Skibine told the Utah Court of Appeals on Monday.

Instead, the jury heard only that Serbeck was out with the neighborhood watch at the time of the shooting, patrolling the neighborhood with the president of a homeowners association and his 9-year-old daughter, and was never charged with a crime. The argument wasn't strong enough to dispel implications that Serbeck was out looking for more victims, a suggestion that followed him to sentencing, Skibine said.

Serbeck was paralyzed in a high-profile Bluffdale shooting in 2009. Reginald Campos was convicted of attempted murder for shooting Serbeck, but the Utah State Court of Appeals overturned the case in 2013.

Serbeck and another man were patrolling their neighborhood in an SUV when they came across two teenage girls walking — one of whom was Campos' daughter. The daughter said the same SUV later aggressively followed her, prompting her to tell her father. The father then grabbed his gun and drove around looking for the vehicle, confronting Serbeck and firing two shots at him.

Serbeck was paralyzed from the waist down when one of the bullets hit his spine.

It wasn't the implication that Serbeck was stalking additional victims that earned him the longer prison sentence, assistant attorney general Jeffrey Gray argued, it was the lack of conscience Serbeck showed.

Serbeck showed no remorse for that 2007 relationship with his teenage neighbor, didn't appreciate the impact his actions had on her and saw himself as the victim in the case, Gray said. The fact that he is now in a wheelchair wouldn't necessarily prevent him from attempting to befriend and develop relationships with teenage girls, he said.

Serbeck is three years into two consecutive terms of zero to five years and one identical concurrent term for three counts of unlawful sexual activity with a 16- or 17-year-old, a third-degree felony.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com, Twitter: McKenzieRomero