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Man sentenced in rape of 11-year-old girl

July 22, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A Hagerstown man who the judge said showed no remorse during his sentencing hearing Wednesday for the second-degree rape of an 11-year-old girl last summer will serve at least four years in state prison, Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell ordered.

Matthew David Mercer, 23, whose last known address before his arrest was an apartment at 140 E. Franklin St. in Hagerstown, was sentenced to 15 years with all but eight years suspended, McDowell said.

Because Mercer was convicted of a violent crime, he will not be eligible for a parole hearing until he serves at least 50 percent of his sentence, McDowell and Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said. McDowell said Mercer will not be able to use credit for good behavior in prison to reduce his time served to less than 50 percent of his sentence.

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The girl was taken to Robinwood Medical Center on Sept. 24, 2003, and found to be pregnant, sparking a police investigation, Cirincion said. Last August, the girl, her mother and brother spent the night at Mercer's apartment while he worked on the mother's car.

On Oct. 8, the girl was taken to Washington County Hospital and miscarried a 7- to 8-week-old fetus. The fetus was tested for DNA, but no paternal link could be made because the fetal matter included only maternal DNA, Cirincion said.

"She is the unfortunate victim of two rapes and has suffered a miscarriage," Cirincion said.

In a separate incident, a boy who was 15 years old admitted in juvenile court to a fourth-degree sex offense against the girl, then 10, Cirincion said.

At age 10, the girl was taken from her home by the Department of Social Services when it was learned she was pregnant, the girl's mother testified during the trial.

The girl is living with family, but not her mother, Cirincion said Wednesday.

The girl, who is not being named to protect her identity, is sad and has become withdrawn, Cirincion and the girl's aunt told MacDowell. She is receiving counseling.

The girl's aunt asked for Mercer to receive the maximum sentence, which for second-degree rape is 20 years, Cirincion said.

Mercer also was found guilty of third-degree sex offense, fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault, but McDowell said there would be no additional sentence.

When given the opportunity to speak before being sentenced, Mercer said he didn't like jail, didn't want to go to prison and wanted to be with his two children.

Mercer said he had been into alcohol and drugs, but changed his life.

McDowell said Mercer didn't seem to realize the lasting effects the rape will have on the girl and showed no remorse.

"You are today complaining of the things you have lost, experienced or suffered," McDowell told Mercer, who was 22 at the time of the rape.

When Mercer is released from prison, he will be on probation for two years, McDowell said. Mercer is to have no contact with the girl, her immediate family or the people with whom she lives, he said.

Mercer is to have no unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 15 years old, McDowell said. He is to register as a sex offender, complete a sex offender program and commit no further crimes or major vehicle violations, McDowell said.

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