A Strawberry Mansion man was sentenced yesterday to 30 to 60 years in prison for last year's brutal rape and stomping of a 77-year-old woman in her Olney home, an attack the judge called "one of the most horrific crimes" in her memory.
"This terrorized that woman, a shadow that will be over her the rest of her days," Common Pleas Court Judge Lisa M. Rau told Kevin McKeither. "It terrorized people throughout the city. It was chilling, reprehensible. I find it incomprehensible why any person would do that to another person."
As in May, when the jury found him guilty of rape, burglary, robbery and related charges in the June 5, 2007, crime , McKeither angrily protested that he is innocent.
"I don't understand none of this," McKeither, 49, replied when Rau asked if he understood his duty to register with police as a sex offender on release from prison.
"Thirty to sixty years for something I didn't do. Thirty to 60 years. When am I going to register? When I'm 90 years old?"
McKeither, handcuffed and surrounded by six sheriff's deputies, was led out of court calling, "I want to appeal."
McKeither's family - four sisters, two brothers-in-law, a niece and nephew - who movingly urged the judge to show mercy, angrily left court after the sentence.
Another nephew was hustled out earlier by sheriff's deputies as the judge announced the sentence. That relative screamed and threw a bag of trash toward the bench.
Not in court was the victim - a Ukrainian immigrant, in the United States 50 years - who Assistant District Attorney William Davis said was being treated in Albert Einstein Medical Center for profound depression.
"She just stopped caring for herself," Davis told Rau. "She worked full-time until she was 75 years old. . . . This crime really broke her."
At trial in May, the victim testified that on the day of the attack, she went food shopping with a 94-year-old friend. She dropped off her friend, parked at her house, and was unloading groceries inside when she was jumped from behind.
The woman said the assailant ripped off her clothes and raped her. The man then gagged her and bound her wrists and ankles with a bra and scarves.
The assailant stole $85 from the victim's purse and, in a final insult, stomped on the woman's chest as he left.
Davis said the blow bruised the woman's heart and required a 10-day hospital stay.
The defense case was based on the fact that the victim said she could not see the assailant's face and could not identify McKeither.
McKeither voluntarily provided DNA samples, and defense attorney Beth McHugh argued that the offer was the act of an innocent man.
But detectives matched McKeither's DNA to skin cell samples they said were found on the victim's bindings.
McKeither yesterday referred to trial testimony that skin-cell DNA is easily transferrable. The victim lied, he said, and his DNA samples were transferred by detectives to crime-scene items to "set me up."
McKeither's sisters, a brother-in-law, and his pastor described a man known for helping in his community with neighbors.
But McKeither's past, as outlined by both Davis and McHugh based on presentencing investigations, seemed checkered.
There was a 1990 conviction for exposing himself to his 13-year-old stepdaughter, and a period of homelessness and substance abuse during the mid-'90s, followed by inpatient treatment for depression and a suicide attempt.