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Herd tells the judge that he has a "loving wife of 16 years" and a supportive father and in-laws. He says he has "four beautiful kids," including Shorty. "God has put me and my family through a test. We will pass this test," Herd says. "I don't feel I am a monster." He says this is proved by the fact that he coached girls' softball and took part in Junior Olympics. He claims that more than 20 girls he coached went on to college scholarships.
Herd also hints cryptically at his innocence. Herd refers to a truth other than the one in the plea agreement, "people who know the truth" and the one-sided nature of the story.
"There's another side?" Vratil finally asks.
"No," Herd says, "not that I want to go into." Then Herd becomes a martyr. He says he "took the plea so [Shorty] wouldn't suffer" and accepts the plea "on the blood of Jesus."
Herd keeps telling the court how much he loves his family and Shorty. "There's nothing that means more to me than my family," Herd says. "I love [Shorty]. She's still my daughter. In time, my family will be back together.... Everybody should have a chance to be rehabilitated, a chance to get back with family. You can't throw life away sometimes."
An unmoved Vratil rejects the plea agreement. Herd switches his tone. He proclaims himself ready for trial "as long as all the evidence gets to come out."
"You're telling me you aren't guilty?" Vratil asks again.
"I can't say any more," Herd says.
Vratil suggests that Dent talk to his client because he "apparently claims he is innocent."
Dent talks animatedly to Herd, who nods his head. Dent tells Vratil that Herd wants to withdraw his guilty plea.
When court adjourns, Shorty hurries out of the courtroom with the bikers.
A smiling Herd turns to his rows of supporters. "Love you guys," he says. Two rows of people wave to him as the marshals lead him away.
"There she is," a biker shouts as Shorty walks up the stairs of the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas. With arms open, Shorty dashes toward the members of Bikers Against Child Abuse. Dressed in jeans, a jacket over her T-shirt, Shorty hugs each biker. She is back at the courthouse on the warm morning of March 19 to hear prosecutors' latest plea deal with her stepfather.
She appears happier and more confident than she did a month ago. Shorty and the bikers form a jangling procession of leather and metal as they flood the halls on the way to the prosecutor's office. They march past Kindra Herd, who is sitting on a bench outside the locked courtroom. Minutes later, the bikers fill up two benches when the courtroom doors open. Shorty vanishes into the back row of bikers.
Herd is already waiting at the defense table in the courtroom. He fidgets with a crumpled piece of legal paper while he and Dent, his attorney, read over the new plea agreement.
Herd has agreed to serve a sentence of 21 years and 10 months, nearly four years longer than his original plea.
When the hearing begins, Vratil asks Herd to explain his cryptic comments at the February hearing about his supposed innocence. Herd calls it a "misunderstanding." He says he was scared. "I really wish it would have happened that day," Herd says of his sentencing. "And she could get on with her life and get counseling."