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Man wants to withdraw plea in rape case

November 24, 2000

Man wants to withdraw plea in rape case



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Philadelphia man who was in Franklin County court Wednesday to be sentenced for the rape of his 13-year-old daughter asked the judge if he could withdraw his plea.

The man, 33, told Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carol Van Horn he was unhappy with the public defender assigned to him and felt he had been misled about the terms of the plea.

The defendant, who is not being identified to protect the victim's identity, struck a deal earlier this year in which he pleaded no contest to a rape charge, which meant he agreed there was enough evidence to convict him but did not admit guilt.

In exchange, a second rape charge, and two charges of aggravated indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and single counts of incest, aggravated assault, simple assault and terroristic threats were dropped.

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Under the plea agreement, he would face a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years.

"My client wishes to withdraw the plea. He feels I misled him in what the sentence would be," said Public Defender Robert Trambley.

He said the man would rather face a trial.

"I felt my lawyer didn't come clean with me. My plea was five to 10 years, now they are telling me the plea is 10 to 20 years," the man said.

Assistant District Attorney John Lisko opposed the withdrawal, saying the plea clearly stated the maximum sentence would be 20 years, not 10.

"I don't think he has a fair and just reason to withdraw the plea," Lisko said.

He also pointed out that if the plea were withdrawn, the District Attorney's office would pursue all of the charges against the man.

"I'm no mathematician, but he's looking at over 100 years maximum if the defendant is found guilty on all charges," Lisko said.

Trambley asked Van Horn to appoint new counsel in the case.

Van Horn agreed to appoint a new attorney and said the defendant could file a motion to withdraw his plea and the court would hold a hearing on the motion.

Despite consenting to the hearing, Van Horn said she had trouble believing the defendant did not understand the terms of the plea agreement.

"You didn't take a plea to any sentence. I am certain you were advised it would be up to the sentencing judge," she said.

The man was arrested Feb. 12 and has been in Franklin County Prison since then.

The rape occurred at a home in Hamilton Township when the man showed up at 2 a.m. looking for his daughter's mother.

The mother was not home and the man left.

He returned an hour later and threatened the girl with a knife before raping her twice on the living room floor, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

When she tried to stop him, he threatened to kill her, the affidavit alleges.

The man was charged after he called the mother and told her he had hurt their daughter, according to the affidavit.

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