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Pa. man found guilty in rape trial

April 07, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County jury took an hour Thursday to find a Waynesboro, Pa., man guilty of rape, but he will have to wait for several months to find out how long he will spend in state prison.

Michael B. Stahley, 23, of 125 N. Grant St., also was convicted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, burglary, simple assault, terroristic threats and theft for raping and beating the woman in her North Church Street apartment May 22, 2004.

The prosecution completed its case Thursday morning with a Pennsylvania State Police forensic scientist testifying on the results of a DNA comparison between Stahley and sperm samples recovered from the victim.

"The DNA profile of Michael Stahley matched both the pubic and vaginal swabs" from the victim, said Michael Biondi. The police scientist said the chances of a random DNA match from another white male would be 1 in 29 quadrillion.

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"A quadrillion has 15 zeros after it," Biondi said.

"It would be unreasonable to expect it to have come from anyone else," he said of the DNA.

After the prosecution rested its case, so did the defense. Attorney Anthony Adams called no witnesses and Stahley did not testify.

Stahley was accused of breaking into the apartment of the women, whom he had met at a bar on the night of May 21. The woman testified Wednesday that she left the tavern with a friend, Stahley and another man and went to sleep after they walked her home.

She testified she awoke to find Stahley cutting off her clothing with a knife. During the attack she was beaten, bitten and cut and had clumps of hair pulled from her head as he dragged her through the apartment, according to trial testimony.

In his closing argument, Adams said police failed to find either of the knives the woman said Stahley used in the attack, nor the clothing she said he cut off of her. Adams said police did not test possible blood stains on Stahley's clothing and in the apartment.

Adams said there was no physical evidence the apartment had been forcibly entered, or of Stahley forcing her to have oral sex, accusations on which the burglary and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charges were based.

Assistant District Attorney T.R. Williams countered that the victim testified she was "playing dead" after the assault and Stahley had time to remove evidence from the apartment, even wiping the woman's body with a cloth before leaving.

The DNA match and evidence of the woman's injuries were conclusive proof of the crime, Williams said.

The prosecution and defense stipulated to one change in the charges against Stahley, reducing the theft charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, Adams said. Stahley still faces a maximum of more than 70 years in prison when he is sentenced, he said.

Judge Carol Van Horn scheduled sentencing for Aug. 23. Before then, Stahley will undergo an evaluation by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board to determine if he is a sexually violent predator, which would require his lifetime registration as a sexual offender.

Stahley, who last month turned down a plea agreement for 10 to 20 years in prison, is awaiting trial in three other criminal cases, two of which stem from break-ins at women's apartments in December 2003.

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