Plea in McAlester girl's rape draws fire

SONYA COLBERG Modified: June 17, 2009 at 3:14 pm •  Published: June 11, 2009
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Th
e district attorney said the program misstated a number of facts in the case.

"I think it’s abhorrent that local, state and national media are trying to crucify the district judge for doing nothing more than accepting a plea bargain, something he does almost every day,” Pittsburg County District Attorney J.B. Miller said. "He was doing his job. So were we.”

Rivera lambasted the judge and district attorney. He said the judge turned down a request to record the girl’s testimony and avoid confronting Earls in open court.

That’s wrong, Miller said.

The child testified in open court during a pre-trial hearing. Earls was present. Before trial, prosecutors were trying to get the girl qualified to testify on closed circuit, a procedure to determine whether the child could discern between the truth and a lie, Miller said.

The judge did certify that the child could testify by closed circuit. But Miller said his assistants, a child advocate and her family feared she would freeze up and Earls could end up being freed. That’s when the plea bargain was reached — before the trial began.

The physical evidence
The child’s genitals were scarred, but the forensic examiner couldn’t say when, how or who caused that, and was unable to gather DNA evidence, Miller said.

"There’s nobody in this town who, more than me, would have liked to have seen David Earls go to prison for a million years,” Miller said.

Earls was sentenced to 20 years for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in 1996. He served seven years and was released for medical reasons in 2003, according to records. While he was out on the medical parole for cancer, he began living with the mother of the victim, Miller said.

Earls, who must also register as a sex offender, is expected to have three years to live, Miller said.


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