DECATUR — Steven W. Gensler, charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill his wife, destroying her property and battering her, was sentenced to 30 months of probation, mental health inpatient treatment and eight months jail time already served, as part of a plea deal.
Gensler, 62, appeared at a hearing in Circuit Judge Thomas E. Griffith’s courtroom Wednesday morning, dressed in a jail jumpsuit, as he sat at the defense table with his attorney, Chris Bradley.
Gensler has been in jail since he was arrested June 15 for destroying many personal items belonging to his estranged wife, Debra. He was also charged with grabbing her by her arms, restraining her from leaving their home and violating an order of protection.
Griffith asked Debra Gensler, seated at the prosecution table with assistant state’s attorneys Elizabeth Dobson and Mary Koll, if she consented to the plea agreement.
“I consent,” she said. “I do have reservations.”
As part of the plea deal, Gensler pleaded guilty to felony counts of criminal damage to property and unlawful restraint, plus a misdemeanor count of domestic battery.
Although Gensler was charged with solicitation of murder for hire, with a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, charges in that case were dismissed because prosecutors did not believe there was sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.
Shortly after Gensler was arrested, authorities received information that he was soliciting another inmate to kill his wife and a male friend of hers. After that inmate wore an eavesdropping device, Gensler was arrested and charged with three felony counts.
That case later unraveled for several reasons, said Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott. “The recording that was the main evidence in the case malfunctioned, so we did not have an overhear recording,” Scott said.
In addition, the inmate who accused Gensler would not have made a credible witness, especially because of his numerous subsequent arrests. Another inmate also told investigators that the cooperating inmate had manipulated Gensler as a way to get himself out of jail.
Scott said the plea agreement provided the best protection for the victims, because if they proceeded to trial and Gensler were acquitted, they would not secure the same safeguards.
Gensler agreed to comply with mental health and substance abuse treatment plans, including 30 days of inpatient treatment, to start immediately after his jail discharge. He will also wear a GPS monitoring bracelet with exclusion zones for victims, honor an order of protection and no-contact order for victims and specific family members and surrender his firearms owner’s identification card. If he violates these terms, he could be sent to prison.