A Baltimore man today received a life sentence for raping a 9-year-old girl -- a crime that occurred less than a year after his release from a prison term for another rape.
Lewis Ray Phares, 36, was on parole when he was charged with the rape of a Hamilton Elementary School student last Feb. 6. He had been released from prison July 5, 1989, after serving six years of a 10-year sentence for second-degree rape.
Phares pleaded guilty Aug. 20 to the rape of the Hamilton fourth-grader, who was abducted at gunpoint as she walked home from school. He faced a maximum of two life sentences plus 25 years on first-degree rape, kidnapping and handgun charges.
"This was a particularly heinous crime," Assistant State's Attorney Wanda Keyes Robinson told Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Joseph I. Pines.
Defense lawyer Milton Baxley acknowledged Phares' extensive criminal record. But he argued that a life sentence probably would not not help Phares, who claims that he was sexually abused as a child.
"Life doesn't necessarily mean life anymore," said Baxley, a public defender. "We have to get him some kind of treatment."
Baxley asked for a life sentence with all but 30 years suspended, making Phares eligible for the Patuxent Institution, a medium-security prison offering psychotherapy and education. Baxley noted that Phares would be eligible for parole in about 15 years with a life sentence.
Before sentencing, Phares said: "I'd like to say to the girl's mother and father that I'm sorry. I wished it never happened."
Pines called Phares a "definite threat to society" and sentenced him to life.
The victim's mother said of the sentence: "I guess it's good. But he's still alive, which is bad."