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.