By JOSH NEWTON
A Tahlequah man convicted in September of child sexual abuse was formally sentenced Thursday, despite recanting the written statement he gave investigators when he was first accused of having sex with his adopted teenage daughter.
Stacey Garrett Begay, 47, was found guilty in September by a jury that recommended he serve a 30-year sentence for the crime. District Judge Darrell Shepherd then ordered a pre-sentence investigation before Begay’s formal sentencing, which was Thursday afternoon.
The judge on Thursday formally sentenced Begay to 30 years for the felony charge, which requires him to serve at least 85 percent of the time before he is eligible for parole.
Much of the state’s case against Begay focused on a written statement he provided to Kathy Young, a domestic violence and sexual assault investigator for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. In that statement, Begay said he’d been having sex with his adopted daughter since December 2010, and described in detail how those interactions began and would progress to the girl’s bedroom.
“She made me feel good about myself,” Begay reportedly wrote in that statement.
He also detailed how the girl, who was 16 at the time, would “please” him by making dinner or baking him cookies, and said the girl didn’t criticize him.
Begay admitted he’d had sex with the girl 10 times or more, prosecutors said during the trial.
According to the pre-sentence investigation filed before Thursday’s sentencing, Begay now denies he ever had sexual contact with the girl, and takes no responsibility for any wrongdoing.
During an interview with officers of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections on Oct. 2, 2012, Begay reportedly put part of the blame on the girl, saying she “knows how to work the system.”
But he also said he believes he was under the influence of his medication when he wrote a statement for investigators and that his medications put him in a “zombie state.”
Begay said he doesn’t remember writing the statement; that he must have written what investigators told him to; and that he only remembers waking up in jail the next day, after his medication wore off.
Officers conducting the pre-sentence investigation also spoke to the victim, who is now 18. She, too, recanted her original statements and now says she never had sex with Begay.
According to the pre-sentence report, Begay asked the court to consider his plea for parole so “that I can keep on doing Jehovah’s will.” He said he attends services as a Jehovah’s Witness every Sunday and participates in theocratic ministry school on Thursdays. Three fellow congregation members who said they have known Begay for one to two years wrote the court as character witnesses for Begay.
Begay said his plan, if he had been given probation, would be to continue living in Pawnee with his wife.
The officers who prepared the pre-sentence report recommended Begay receive a sentence of incarceration based on the jury’s recommendation and receive post-incarceration supervision from the DOC.
Begay’s wife, Terry Begay, is facing felony perjury charges in Cherokee County for allegedly falsely testifying during her husband’s trial in September. She was arrested in the courtroom after jurors had gone to deliberate her husband’s case, and later pleaded not guilty.