Damon L. Galyardt, 25, had everything to live for – including the future birth of his daughter – when his life was cut short the night of Nov. 11, 2011. On Thursday Galyardt’s killer, Jeffrey Wade Chapman, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years.
Chapman, 33, formerly of Pawnee Rock, was found guilty in February by a Barton County jury of first-degree premeditated murder. District Court Judge Ron Svaty presided over the trial and at Thursday’s sentencing hearing.
Svaty denied motions, filed by defense attorney Kurt Kerns, for acquittal or a new trial.
Family members of Damon Galyardt were allowed to speak before the sentence was imposed.
Tia Castaneda, cousin of the victim, called Galyardt’s murder a “senseless act.
“Mr. Chapman, a so-called friend of Mr. Galyardt, decided on his own to end Damon’s life,” she said. Noting how the victim’s own troubled life was portrayed at the trial, she said Galyardt was “more than a meth-head.”
“We want to take Damon in our arms, but we can’t,” Castaneda said. She said Chapman has ruined many lives and never shown remorse. “We are asking the court not to go easy on Mr. Chapman.”
Summer Hoss spoke next, telling the judge what it was like to be 19 years old an pregnant, and to lose the father of her daughter, who is now 3 years old.
“I lost myself in all of this,” she said. “Damon can’t be there for me and his family.”
The fact that she and Galyardt thought of Chapman as a friend is now “a cruel joke,” Hoss said.
She also noted that, during the trial, Galyardt came across as a paranoid meth addict. But, she recalled how excited he was about having a baby. “Honestly, I’d never seen Damon so happy,” she said.
“I hurt for my little girl. I can’t find the words for the pain,” Hoss continued. They visit Galyardt’s grave, but for now the little girl doesn’t understand that it’s anything more than a park.
Hoss said she has been harassed by people who treat her as the guilty party.
“I know I’m innocent and don’t want to be portrayed as a monster,” she said.
“Jeffrey Wade Chapman has given Damon and all of his loved ones a lifetime sentence of sadness and pain,” Hoss said. She did not want Chapman to become eligible for parole in 25 years.
“My daughter should not be afraid of this man walking the streets again,” she said. Hoss concluded her remarks by showing Judge Svaty as picture of her daughter.
Assistant Attorney General Steven A. Karrer then read a statement from Galyardt’s sister, who was unable to attend the hearing. She said she and her children, who miss their uncle, are in therapy.
Chapman was asked whether he wished to address the court.
“No sir,” he said. “I believe I said everything I was going to say at trial.”
Judge Svaty said that no motions had been filed asking him to depart from state sentencing guidelines. “There is only one sentence I can impose,” he said.
Chapman was also ordered to pay $3,888 in restitution. That is the amount a victim’s fund paid for the Galyardt’s funeral expenses. Chapman was also order to pay $193 in court fees. If he is ever released on parole, he will be a registered violent offender for 15 years, and he will remain under parole supervision for life.
Chapman has been in jail on the charge of murdering Galyardt for 1,151 days (since Feb. 13, 2012), and those days will count toward his 25-year minimum imprisonment. He will not receive time off the sentence for good behavior.
The case was investigated by Great Bend Police Department, Barton County Sheriff’s Office and Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Assistant Attorney General Karrer and Amy J. Mellor, Assistant Barton County Attorney, prosecuted the case.