Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pittsburgh's East End Rapist sentenced to 80 - 160 years

By Bobby Kerlik
Thursday, September 4, 2008

One of Keith O. Wood's victims has lost some of her hearing and is afraid of the dark.
Another told a judge Wednesday she has flashbacks to the night he crept into her home and attacked her.

Despite Wood's continued insistence he is not the notorious East End Rapist, the judge sentenced the Highland Park man to 80 to 160 years in prison for his conviction of assaulting four women in their homes.

DNA evidence connected Wood, 51, to four of the five attacks in 2000 and 2001. He told Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning he didn't do it.

"I'm very sorry for what happened to the victims, but I'm not the one who committed the acts," Wood said. "I'm not guilty. You will see that no DNA evidence was found."

Deputy District Attorney Janet Necessary said the chance the DNA found at the four scenes is not Wood's is 1 in 56 quintillion -- that's 56 followed by 18 zeros.

A jury convicted Wood in June of rapes he was accused of committing in Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Swissvale, Edgewood and Forest Hills. The assaults occurred under similar circumstances. The women awoke to find a man in their bedrooms. He threatened to kill them before raping them and, in some cases, had a weapon.

Manning declared a mistrial in the fifth case, which did not have DNA evidence, after the jury said it was deadlocked. Necessary told Manning prosecutors would not retry that case.
Two of the victims testified before Manning imposed the sentence.

"There's no punishment that exists that would befit the defendant. He is diabolical and dangerous," one victim told Manning. "I'm still afraid of the dark at age 37. I haven't been able to sleep with the lights out since."
She said Wood nearly ruined her career because she lived in constant fear and twice attempted suicide.

"During the assault, I was beaten in my head. I have hearing loss in my left ear and I have migraine headaches. I have worsening issues with memory and concentration because I was strangled to the point of unconsciousness," the woman testified. "For several months after, I could feel the defendant's hands around my neck closing off my airway."

The Tribune-Review does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Wood's mother cried throughout the sentencing. She declined comment.

Another victim testified she was unable to sleep at night for months after the rape.

"My personal relationship with my boyfriend has been affected. I didn't want to be left alone, especially at night," the woman testified. "I would have flashbacks of the assault during intimate moments."

Wood, who testified on his own behalf during the trial, accused police of illegally obtaining his DNA. A sample was taken in July 2005 while he was an inmate at the state prison in Cambria County, where he was serving time for a parole violation on a burglary arrest. The crimes went unsolved until 2007, when state police matched Wood's DNA to one of the rapes.

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