A plea bargain yesterday ended the protracted case of the Galesvillewoman who awoke to what she thought were the caresses of her boyfriend only to find out -- during intercourse -- that it was her next-door neighbor.
Tony Wade Irvine, whose 1990 conviction for attempted rape was overturned on appeal, pleaded guilty yesterday to a fourth-degree sexual offense and burglary. In exchange, Irvine, who has served 23 months of the 17-year sentence on the since-overturned conviction, will be released from prison. He will be placed on five years' unsupervised probation.
Irvine, 30, entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant does notadmit guilt but concedes the state has enough evidence to convict him.
According to court documents, the victim in the June 1989 assault had put her young son to bed and went to bed herself to read and await her boyfriend, who had borrowed her car. She left the front doorunlocked. She was awakened when she felt a man caressing her. Thinking it was her boyfriend, she engaged in intercourse with the man. When she realized it wasn't her boyfriend, she struggled to get up, plugged in a light and saw it was her neighbor.
The trial, in county Circuit Court, included testimony from another neighbor who said the man had done the same thing to her 15 months earlier. Last May, the Court of Special Appeals overturned the conviction on grounds that the neighbor should not have been allowed to testify.
Although the woman's testimony may have established that Irvine has "a propensity to engage in sexual assaults by trick, deceit or deception," it was irrelevant to the specific charges against him, the court held.