MCALESTER — Authorities say a man who was convicted of raping a child but received a sentence amounting to one year in jail has died.
Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns told the McAlester News Capital that David Earls died about 2:30 p.m. Saturday at a McAlester hospital, where he was taken after developing flu-like symptoms.
Earls was expected to face trial on a 2009 grand jury indictment charging him with lewd and indecent acts with a child under 16.
The indictment came after Earls was sentenced to 20 years in prison with the final 19 years suspended in a 2008 child rape case. With time served, Earls was nearing a release date on the one-year sentence when he was indicted.
Earls' one-year sentence created national headlines and plenty of controversy including bomb and death threats and additional accusations of molestation by Earls' relatives. Earls was 64 at the time of his conviction.
Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera commented, “I will not weep if something happens to David Earls.”
In June, more accusations of molestation became public, but Pittsburg County District Attorney Jim Bob Miller said his office didn't file charges because prosecutors lacked corroboration and supporting evidence. At that time, Miller said the new revelations involved Earls' original victims. Former Attorney General Drew Edmondson had wanted to try Earls on those new allegations.
Witnesses also were controversial. A physician's assistant on the state's witness list was investigated for allegedly converting more than 200 drug prescriptions to her own use. Stacy Scroggins had examined one of Earls' victims in September 2008 and found signs of sexual abuse. Earls' attorneys argued that Scoggins' credibility was undermined as a witness due to the drug investigation.
Al Hoch, an attorney for Earls, did not return a call Monday seeking comment.