WORTHINGTON — A last-ditch effort to assert his innocence did not save Somboun Kounlabout, 39, of Worthington, from a state-mandated prison sentence at a final hearing Monday.
Kounlabout was arrested in September 2019 for unlawful possession of a firearm after Worthington police officers found a loaded pistol in his backpack during a probation check. A previous felony charge had rendered Kounlabout ineligible to own a gun.
A jury convicted Kounlabout of the offense in January. At his Monday sentencing hearing, Kounlabout maintained his innocence.
"I never had any guns or any felonies involving guns," he said, asking Fifth Judicial District Judge Terry Vajgrt to consider sentencing him to less time or to probation.
"Mr. Kounlabout, a jury convicted you," Vajgrt said. "Twelve jurors felt there was enough evidence." At this point in the judicial process, he explained, Kounlabout must receive the appropriate sentence.
"There is simply not any basis in the record to depart from the sentencing guidelines," Vajgrt said.
Vajgrt sentenced Kounlabout to 60 months in prison —the statutory mandatory minimum for unlawful possession of a firearm — with credit for 165 days served previously. Kounlabout will have to serve at least 40 months of his sentence, with the possibility of spending up to 20 months on supervised release.