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Jury could rule in Pa. rape and assault case today

April 06, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County jury could decide today whether a 23-year-old Waynesboro, Pa., man is guilty of charges that he raped and beat a woman in 2004.

Michael B. Stahley of 125 N. Grant St. is charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated assault, burglary, terroristic threats and theft, according to court records, charges that carry penalties totaling 86 years in prison. Last month, he turned down an offer of 10 to 20 years in state prison if he pleaded guilty to rape, an offer that would have also resolved three other criminal cases against him.

The woman testified Wednesday that she was awakened at about 3 a.m. on May 22, 2004, by an intruder who was cutting her clothes off with a knife. She struggled with the man, briefly escaping to the kitchen of her North Church Street apartment before he dragged her back into her bedroom, she testified.

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"I was just struggling to get the knife away from my throat," the woman testified. During the struggle in the kitchen, she testified the knife fell to the floor and she pushed it under the refrigerator.

The woman testified she screamed and pounded on the floor of her upstairs apartment in an attempt to awaken neighbors, but the assailant got another knife from the kitchen and continued the assault.

The woman identified Stahley as her attacker and testified she had met him the night before at a bar. A friend of the woman testified that he later walked her home, accompanied by another man and Stahley.

After seeing the woman home, the man testified he and Stahley continued walking before parting ways.

Shirley Smith, who lived below the woman, testified she was awakened that night by what sounded like someone running upstairs, but went back to sleep. Smith testified she woke up later to the sound of the woman screaming and pounding on her door.

"She was hysterical. I was afraid she was going into shock," Smith testified. She testified about injuries she saw on the woman, including "choke marks on her neck."

Michael Broas, a former Waynesboro police officer, testified he searched Stahley's home on May 25, confiscating clothing belonging to Stahley and a cell phone belonging to the woman.

Dr. Merrill McKenzie, an emergency room physician at Waynesboro Hospital, testified to the cuts, bruises and abrasions the woman sustained and that he took samples for a rape kit that were tested by the Pennsylvania State Police Crime Lab.

Assistant District Attorney T.R. Williams said witnesses will testify today about the results of tests done on physical evidence collected in the case.

On cross-examination by defense attorney Anthony Adams, police officers testified that the knife the woman said went under the refrigerator was never found and Stahley's clothing was not tested. Adams also said the woman's apartment was locked when police arrived, but Cpl. Mark King testified he later tested the lock, opening the door with a driver's license and screwdriver.

At the time he was charged with the rape, Stahley was awaiting trial on burglary, criminal trespass and simple assault charges for allegedly entering the apartments of two Waynesboro women on the same night in December 2003. Those cases, and charges of fleeing police after the 2004 incident, are still pending, according to court records.

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