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'Spandex man' sentence overturned

MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court Wednesday struck down the life sentence imposed in St. Croix County on a Brooklyn Park, Minn., man ruling that the sequence of his two prior Minnesota convictions didn't qualify him as a "persistent repeater" under state law.

Michael Scott Long, 40, formerly of Brooklyn Park, Minn., had been sentenced in November 2006 to life in prison without parole by Circuit Judge Edward Vlack III after a jury convicted Long of second-degree sexual assault and false imprisonment in connection with sexual contact with a Country Inn employee in River Falls.

Scott came to be known as the Spandex man for, on at least two occasions, wearing clothing made from the tight-fitting material and acting indecently with females.

Vlack had found that Long's Minnesota convictions for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Washington County on Jan. 7, 2004, and first-degree burglary in Hennepin County on Dec. 18, 2003, were serious felonies which subjected Long to the state's "three strikes" law and a mandatory life sentence.

Last August the District 3 Court of Appeals upheld Vlack's finding that there was sufficient proof at trial to convict Long on both charges, and his two Minnesota convictions were comparable to Wisconsin serious offenses which established that he was a repeat offender under Wisconsin law.

While the state Supreme Court sustained Long's convictions Wednesday it found the Vlack improperly applied the persistent repeater penalty enhancement and ordered that Long be re-sentenced.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley noted that Long's Washington County offense occurred on March 23, 2003, and he was sentenced on Jan. 7, 2004. Long's Hennepin County offense occurred on March 26, 2003, and he was sentenced on Dec. 18, 2003. Because Long was convicted of his second offense before he was sentenced for his first offense, the sequence doesn't satisfy state law that requires Long to have been convicted of two prior felonies.

"The conviction date of the Hennepin County offense was not before the violation date of the Washington County offense. Likewise, the conviction date of the Washington County offense was not before the violation date of the Hennepin County offense. Neither of Long's previous convictions occurred 'before the date of violation of ... the other felon[y] for which [Long] was previously convicted,'" Bradley wrote in the 23-page opinion.

The opinion also noted that neither of Long's attorneys raised the sequence issue which usually allows the court to ignore it. However, because the attorney general's office, defense attorneys and circuit court misinterpreted the persistent repeater law which resulted in Long's life sentence, the state's high court needed to address it.

In the St. Croix County offense, Long confronted an 18-year-old motel clerk in October 2004, and embraced her from the front and back without her consent.

Long is currently incarcerated in St. Cloud, Minn., prison on a prior offense.

Calls to St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson and Long's appeals attorney, Joseph Sommers, for comment on the decision were not immediately returned.