William Hayden, the ex-star of the Discovery Channel reality show Sons of Guns, is headed to jail for life, plus 40 years, after yesterday’s court sentencing following a rape trial.
On April 7, after just an hour of deliberations, a Louisiana jury found Hayden guilty of two counts of aggravated rape and one count of forcible rape.
One of the victims, a 12- or 13-year-old at the time, said the incident occurred in the 1990s. Another accuser claimed Hayden raped her in 2014 when she was a pre-teen.
Sons of Guns, which centered on the activities of Red Jacket Firearms LLC, a Baton Rouge custom firearms manufacturer, ran on Discovery for about three years before it was canceled in August 2014 following Hayden’s arrest. Will Hayden, 51, is no longer the owner of the gun shop after the company cut ties with him following the arrest.
“Given the serious and horrific nature of the charges against Will Hayden, we have decided to halt further production of Sons of Guns and cancel the series,” Discovery explained in a statement at the time.
Sons of Guns premiered on January 26, 2011, and aired five “seasons” culminating in episode 65, which turned out to be the series final installment, broadcast on May 16, 2014.
Previously pleading not guilty, Hayden denied the rape allegations when he took the witness stand and his lawyer is appealing the prison term.
According to Radar Online, “Hayden has denied any wrongdoing, and blamed the allegations on the younger victim’s mother being an angry ex-girlfriend.”
Unless the verdict is overturned on appeal, William Hayden will spend the rest of life in a corrections facility. “Hayden was sentenced to two life sentences, to run concurrently, plus 40 years, to run consecutively. He’s not eligible for probation, parole, or a suspended sentence,” the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported about the May 11 court hearing in East Baton Rouge before Judge Mike Erwin.
Aggravated rape in Louisiana requires a mandatory life sentence.
The Advocate provided more details of what led to Will Hayden’s life sentence.
“Hayden’s Baton Rouge victims testified at his trial that he raped them over two-year periods. The younger victim said he repeatedly raped her in 2013 and 2014 when she was 11 and 12, including at his Greenwell Springs home and in his truck. The older woman, who has three children of her own and is engaged, said Hayden raped her twice in the early 1990s when she was 12 and 13. She said the first rape occurred at Hayden’s apartment in Cedarcrest after they smoked marijuana. He was in his mid-20s at the time.”
In her closing argument to the jury, prosecutor Sonya Cardia-Porter described Will Hayden as a “master manipulator” whose court testimony was “pretty well rehearsed,” claiming the he was “acting” on the witness stand similar to the way he acted on the reality show, The Advocate reported after the jury rendered its decision last month.
The former reality star also faces a July trial on additional sex crime charges in a neighboring Louisiana jurisdiction, although the prosecutor there may put the cases on hold, unless his Thursday conviction is somehow overturned. In one of those pending cases, authorities charged Hayden with aggravated incest of his Sons of Guns co-star, daughter Stephanie Hayden, who revealed on the Dr. Phil show that in a one-time incident, her dad entered her bedroom drunk and allegedly fondled her, The Advocate noted.
“The sentencing follows reports that first emerged in August 2014 that had the reality TV star and gunsmith booked on child molestation charges. Released on $150,000 bond at the time, Hayden was arrested again two weeks later on charges of aggravated rape of a 12-year-old,” the Guns.com website recalled.
This is a developing story. Watch this space for updates on William Hayden, the former Sons of Gun star who received a life sentence on rape charges.
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