McALESTER — Sheriff Joel Kerns is making adjustments at the Pittsburg County jail to accommodate an inmate whose one-year prison term for raping a little girl has garnered national attention. David Harold Earls, 64, has been isolated from the general population at the McAlester lockup, but he’s not in solitary confinement, Kerns said. "He’s in a cell with offenders charged with the same crime he’s charged with,” Kerns said. "The group where he’s at, most have similar offenses.” Earls pleaded no contest last month to first-degree rape and forcible sodomy for attacking a then 4-year-old McAlester girl. The rape charge carries a sentence of five years to life in prison, but the deal his lawyer struck with prosecutors calls for 19 years of his 20-year sentence to be suspended. District Judge Thomas Bartheld followed prosecutors’ recommendations and handed down Earls’ prison term on May 13. Ever since, Bartheld and District Attorney Jim Bob Miller’s office have been heavily criticized. Prosecutors said they only agreed to the plea bargain because the case rested largely on the testimony of the girl, now 5, who made contradictory statements during pretrial hearings. After testifying about the assault, she later said she couldn’t remember the rape. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is looking into the case to see if additional charges can be filed. Earls’ sentence specified that he do his time in the Pittsburg County jail and that he be given credit for time already served following his arrest last year. Kerns said his records show Earls is set to be released Sept. 24. Miller has said that Earls will have to register as a sex offender every six months for the rest of his life and he won’t be able to live in restricted areas, including areas near schools, day care centers and parks. Earls also will be monitored by the state Department of Probation and Parole, Miller said. "We’re going to supervise him for 19 years,” said Afton Smith, team supervisor at the District 3 Probation and Parole offices in McAlester. "He will be in the office once a month to visit with a probation officer, possibly twice a month for the first six months,” Smith said. "That gives us time to get all of his needs assessed and find out what problem areas he has. "We’ll also see him in the field at least once a month, at his residence or where he’s working.” Earls won’t wear an electronic monitoring device because an order wasn’t included in the judgment, Smith said. Smith said she is well aware of the attention the case has received. "It’s been in the paper and on national TV,” Smith said. "We’ll keep an eye on him.”
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