Monday, April 28, 2008

Rapist sentenced for attack on victim found drowned by seprate killer a month later

A rapist who attacked a woman who was later killed by a separate attacker in another part of Virginia was sentenced to 12 years for her rape. Jimmy Joe Stapleton was sentenced to 12 years in prison for Christa Brae Hart's rape and assault back in 2002.

On its face, Judge J. Kerry Blackwood’s sentence today concludes a case that has dragged along for five and a half years. A jury in January convicted Stapleton without the testimony of Hart, who was found drowned a month after she reported the assault. But the courtroom wrangling may continue.

Stapleton’s defense attorney, David Mullins, has filed a motion for a new trial and is leaving open the possibility of an appeal. Hart’s mother and grandmother, who were present at today’s sentencing, had hoped for a longer prison sentence for Stapleton. The trial has badly frayed the nerves of the two women, and the possibility of an appeal left them disheartened. “This is never going to end,” said Mickie McSwain, Hart’s mother.

Charles Theodore Stiltner Sr. will be on trial beginning in Jjune for Hart's Virginia murder. He is charged with 2nd degree murder .

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