"I think it was probably the only choice the DA’s office had, unless the little girl just knocked our socks off in doing a fantastic job in testifying, and that was always the concern in the back of my mind. What if? What if she pulls through and does a real bang-up job, and then he’d probably be looking at life in prison. That was unlikely to happen because there were so many questions on both sides of the table,” Mills said.
"The reality was we could have taken this thing to trial, and if the DA’s case falls apart because of lack of testimony and corroborating evidence, then this guy walks. We get an acquittal, and he walks,” Mills said.
District attorney Miller said recently, "I much prefer to get a sex offender convicted rather than see a sex offender walk off scot-free.”
Deteriorating health also played a big part
Earls’ medical condition played into the plea bargain. Mills said the condition is apparently lung cancer, which he understands has left Earls without one lung and half of another one.
Taxpayers are paying about $350 per year for Earls’ medication while he’s serving time on rape charges, according to Pittsburg County jail Administrator Missi Eldridge. Additional charges for his care, including four daily breathing treatments, are going to the federal Medicare program. Earls is one of 35 to 40 jail inmates who are served by a full-time nurse, but Eldridge said all those charges can’t be broken out.
Earls also has to pay $1,000 in court costs, $1,000 to the victims compensation assessment and the cost of incarceration, under the ruling. The $44 per day incarceration fee will reach roughly $16,000 by the time he is scheduled to be freed on Sept. 24. After release, new parolees make arrangements to make monthly payments for court and jail fees.
Mills said he doesn’t think legislators can do anything to the judge. He said Judge Bartheld did everything right.
"What would they have him do if he rejects the plea, and it goes to trial, and he’s acquitted? Would they be all over him because he rejected the plea offer?” Mills asked.
Reynolds said, "I expect that attorney is representing the interests of his client and not the best interests of a 4-year-old rape victim when he makes a statement like that.”
Mills said Reynolds and Ritze can introduce a bill to change procedures.
Ongoing coverage: David Harold Earls
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