A Logan man - arrested when his DNA matched samples taken from several unsolved Philadelphia rapes, committed years earlier, in a law enforcement database - was sentenced Tuesday to 40 to 80 years in prison.
Otis Wilkerson's criminal career dates to 1991 and includes several prison terms for theft, robbery, and drugs. But Wilkerson, 39, was on the street in January 2006 when Philadelphia sex crimes investigators discovered that his DNA matched samples from four unsolved rapes.
"I think this sentence is sufficient to ensure that you do not get out," Common Pleas Court Judge Harold M. Kane told Wilkerson before sentencing.
Wilkerson said nothing. He had pleaded guilty to three crimes: the August 2002 rape of an 18-year-old woman, the March 2004 assault of a 23-year-old woman, and the April 2005 rape of a 42-year-old woman.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Foster said Wilkerson was also linked to DNA from the September 2005 rape of a 15-year-old. That case was dismissed because the victim would not agree to prosecute.
None of the victims was in court to testify at the sentencing, but Foster read a statement from the first victim. He said Wilkerson had approached the victim on a bicycle, put a box cutter to her neck, dragged her into a vacant lot, and raped her. Foster said Wilkerson then stole $47 from the victim before riding away.
"It was hard to hear her because she couldn't stop crying," Foster told the judge. "This crime occurred in August 2002 and she is still affected by this."
"He has ruined my life," the woman said, according to Foster. Foster said she has undergone years of therapy, but the rape changed her relationship with her father, troubled her marriage, and left her wondering how to teach the son she is carrying.
Foster recommended consecutive sentences totaling 60 to 120 years. "He has earned every second of that type of sentence," he said.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Azzarano urged Kane not to make the sentences consecutive, arguing that Wilkerson at least deserved credit for pleading guilty and not forcing the victims to testify against him at trial.
Wilkerson's mother and sisters gasped at the judge's sentence and began weeping.
Wilkerson's was one of several rape cases brought years after the actual crimes through use of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). In January 2006, Wilkerson's DNA was sent to the FBI for comparison with DNA samples cataloged from unsolved crimes; there were matches between him and the four Philadelphia rapes, Foster said.