Rapist convicted, sentenced

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A 39-year-old man was sentenced Friday to eight decades in prison shortly after being convicted by a Mahoning County jury for raping a teenage girl eight times.

David Adams, 39, was convicted of eight counts of rape Friday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge John Durkin’s courtroom. Durkin sentenced Adams to 80 years in prison shortly after, the maximum sentence he could impose.

Court records say Adams raped a girl while she was between the ages of 15 and 17.

The 7th District Appeals Court sent the case back to trial in December because they ruled Mahoning County Judge John Durkin should have allowed Adams to withdraw his Alford Plea before sentencing.

An Alford Plea is when a criminal defendant pleads guilty but maintains actual innocence to the charges, similar to a no contest plea for a misdemeanor.

Adams entered an Alford Plea to all eight counts of rape in October 2011. Prosecutors recommended a 15-year prison sentence as part of the agreement.

Two weeks before sentencing, Adams filed a motion asking to withdraw his plea because he felt he didn’t have enough time to think about the agreement and was subsequently humiliated by media reports, records say.

Prosecutors argued the agreement was satisfactory for the girl since she was spared from testifying and that they had agreed to lower the sentencing recommendation from a 25-year sentence. They also argued Adams had been free on bond for the two years since charges were file and they believed he was trying to further delay proceedings to remain free, records say.

Durkin then sentenced Adams to 15 years in prison, causing Adams to collapse in the courtroom.

Appeals judges unanimously ruled that pre-sentence motions to withdraw pleas should be “freely and liberally granted,” according to records.

They vacated the Alford Plea and sent the case back to Durkin’s court for trial.

“We feel this is what our evidence has always shown this entire time,” said Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa after Friday’s decision. “That’s why we did the plea earlier to save the victim from testifying, but if he’s going to make her go through all of this, then we wanted the max and that’s what we got.”

Adams continued to deny the charges even as he was resentenced. Defense attorney Tony Meranto said a decision to appeal the verdict has not been made.

“I certainly respect the verdict, and I think the jury did their job in that they deliberated seven hours,” said Meranto. “If at some point in time some people had doubts, questions, I think they did what they were supposed to do.”

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