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Convicted kidnapper gets 17 years over ‘joke’

As soon as police stopped the car he was riding in next to a handcuffed woman in the backseat, Paul Manning Jr. told the officers “it was all a joke.”

If it was a joke, no one was laughing. Manning and the driver, Hakim Owens, were convicted in June of kidnapping and attempted kidnapping for grabbing one woman off the street and claiming they were FBI agents and for trying to pull another woman into the SUV on Oct. 16.

On Thursday, Erie County Court Judge Kenneth E. Case also took the offense seriously, sentencing Manning to 10 years on the kidnapping charge and seven years for attempted kidnapping.

Before sentencing, one of the victims, Patricia King, who admits having a lengthy record of convictions for drugs and prostitution, told the judge, “I’m not saying I want him to get the max, but I want him to have time to think about what he did.”

Manning’s attorney, James DeMatteo, spoke for the minimum mandatory sentence of five years, pointing out that Manning cooperated with police from the beginning, that he had no criminal record, that no weapons were found with the men and that the woman in the SUV was never threatened with physical harm.

“It was a horrible, horrible joke, and it was not funny,” DeMatteo said. “They were messing with these people, scaring them.”

But he also said, “He had no ill intent to hurt either of these ladies.”

Manning, 20, who did not testify during his trial, did speak up at sentencing and apologized profusely to King.

“I didn’t have any plans for getting in trouble with the law. I planned to join the Marines before this. I was raised better than this, to do better decision making,” he said

Owens, 23, who pleaded guilty earlier this week to an assault in another case, will be sentenced separately.

In her statement to the court, King said one good thing did come out of her frightening experience.

“I’ve been in his shoes before – I have a criminal record,” she said. “I’m trying to do better with my life now. It made me rethink how I lived my life.”