A Columbia County woman who assisted her husband in the sex trafficking of a teen is contesting her near 20-year prison term.
Amanda Gunn, 36, filed a petition Nov. 23 in U.S. District Court in Augusta seeking to vacate her 235-month prison term imposed on May 24.
Gunn contends in her petition that she was pressured into pleading guilty. She wrote in her petition that she would have had no chance at a fair trial if forced to stand trial with her co-defendant and husband, Michael Peyton Gunn.
Amanda Gunn further alleges that at a pretrial conference on Nov. 4, 2021, her attorney showed her a plea offer from prosecutors that she only had five minutes to consider because the trial was set to begin Nov. 15, 2021, and the judge would not be available again before the trial was set to begin.
Amanda Gunn took the plea and testified against her husband. She claims in her petition that the prosecutor filed the proper motion seeking a reduction in her sentence but then withdrew it at the last minute, saying, “I should have known what was going on.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Lyons stuck by a sentencing recommendation of 15 years in prison, according to coverage of the sentencing hearing by The Augusta Press. It was U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall who repeatedly pressed how it was possible that Amanda Gunn didn’t know that her husband was sexually abusing and torturing a child in her own home.
Lyons told the judge she also believed Amanda Gunn was holding back but because of the victim’s position, she was sticking with the recommendation. Her defense attorney told the judge he believed she was unable to fully verbalized the extent of her husband’s depravity because she also was a victim of his abuse and violence.
Hall sentenced Amanda Gunn to a prison term above the prosecutor’s recommended sentence.
Michael Peyton Gunn, 37, was convicted at trial in November 2021. He was sentenced to life in prison. All sentences in the federal system are served without the possibility of parole.
Michael Gunn, who is serving his sentence at the Coleman Medium Federal Correctional Institute in Sumterville, Fla., filed notice of his appeal in June. It is pending.
Amanda Gunn is serving her sentence at the minimum-security prison, Aliceville Federal Correctional Institute in Alabama. Federal prosecutors have until next month to respond to her motion to vacate her sentence.
The Gunns’ crimes were uncovered by an FBI agent following up on a tip that stemmed from an image of child pornography found during an investigation in Texas in 2020.