Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First Man Sentenced To Life Without Parole Under MN Dangerous Sex Offender Law

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The crowd inside a Ramsey County courtroom was silent Friday as the female victim addressed Gari Lamont Stewart, the man convicted of attempting to kill her boyfriend and then raping her repeatedly before kidnapping her during an hours-long ordeal in 2007. [...]

Stewart, formerly of Robbinsdale, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by District Judge M. Michael Monahan. He is believed to be the first rapist convicted by a jury to receive life without parole under changes made to Minnesota's dangerous sex offender law. The changes stemmed from the murder of college student Dru Sjodin in 2003.

Friday's hearing came nearly two years after Stewart entered an apartment on St. Paul's popular Grand Avenue where a young couple slept. He stabbed the man and left him for dead, raped the woman, then set the apartment on fire and kidnapped the woman.

I don't know how long the video on KSTP will be active but they have a statement from Stewart's aunt where she complains that the sentence doesn't fit the crime. She claims that her nephew knew this woman (he'd followed them from Billy's Bar and Restaurant to the woman's apartment) and that her nephew and the woman raped had a prior relationship which should count for something -- as if turning this attack into attempted murder, arson, kidnapping and 2 acquaintance rapes would make it a less severe crime.

During the trial Stewart's attorney claimed they had IDed the wrong person which would make the acquaintance defense a tough sell at sentencing. What this aunt's statement does is disprove this claim that the prosecutors had charged the wrong man.

What's scary is that if this crime could have been positioned as the actions of a rejected boyfriend this woman's nephew might have gotten a lower sentence for identical actions. That's how pervasive the bias is related to rape between people who know each other.

For some people their idea of predator requires that only random strangers are the target. This seems to go back to the dangerous idea that some rapes are deserved.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:59 AM   0 comments links to this post

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