Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys laid out details this week about why Wesley Brian Kaster should receive a five-year prison sentence for attempting to burn down a Planned Parenthood facility in Columbia.
The memorandums were filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, where Kaster, 43, is scheduled to be sentenced at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
They offer few new details on the motives for his crimes, but did provide some background on his life and criminal history.
Kaster pleaded guilty Dec. 18 to counts related to illegal use of explosive materials against a federally funded organization and thwarting public access to the clinic by trying to burn it down.
In February 2019, he broke the glass door of the Planned Parenthood on Providence Road, set buckets of gas inside and threw in a Molotov cocktail to ignite the building.
His defense attorney, federal public defender Troy Stabenow, said little in the two-page memo filed this week on his client’s behalf, other than Kaster is a dedicated father of four, a U.S. Navy veteran, had no criminal history and he agreed with the government’s recommendation for the five-year term.
Stabenow’s recommendation was accompanied by a letter from a family member, which describes him as a dedicated father and a caring member of the community, who along with his family started a free clothing store for immigrants and others in need.
"Wes and his family faithfully attended church and were active in its programs," the letter reads. "His life was full with his family, his garden and service to others."
The clothing project was nominated for a 2018 Columbia Daily Tribune Hero Award, where the nominating party applauded the Kasters in their efforts toward helping people in a new land.
"They have extended their hospitality in ways that go beyond the average volunteer role by allowing people to freely access their home, their family and their friendship," the nomination said.
However, nothing in the case documents indicate what led him to turn from advocating for the immigrant community and those in need to political arson.
In his sentencing memorandum, assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Oliver writes Kaster’s crime was motivated by the reproductive services provided by Planned Parenthood. Oliver does not specifically mention abortion, which has not been practiced at the Columbia facility for some time.
"Kaster’s crime, which was motivated by his personal beliefs about reproductive health care, prevented patients of the Columbia Health Clinic from receiving a variety of health care services for approximately one week as the result of the arson he committed and caused significant physical damage to the facility," Oliver writes.
"This court and society cannot tolerate the use of violence to achieve desired policy outcomes," he wrote. "This is the antithesis of everything for which the best ideals of this nation have always stood."
Kaster served for eight years from 1998 to 2006 on a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine, according to the family member’s letter of support and Oliver’s memorandum. Oliver noted he had marketable skills and no criminal history, other than the counts currently before the court, and had no history of mental health issues.
However, he added that the need to protect the public and deterrence must also play a role in Kaster’s sentence, as his conduct exposed the community to unacceptable danger.
"His use of an explosive device was intended to prevent access to a health care clinic receiving federal funding," Oliver’s memo reads. "Kaster manufactured this device in his basement shop with materials purchased in Columbia.
"The imposition of a total sentence of 60 months will protect the public, promote respect for the law, deter Kaster and others from committing additional crimes, and provide just punishment."