A 32-year-old man -- convicted of raping his daughter -- stood before Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. yesterday and explained why he didn't accept an initial plea offer from prosecutors.
"I did not plead guilty because, in my heart, I know I am not," the man said. The deal would have capped his punishment at 18 months in the county jail.
Instead, the man -- whom Judge Burns found guilty in July of repeatedly raping his daughter when she was 5 and 6 years old -- was sentenced to 11 years in state prison.
"This is a very difficult sentencing for me," the judge said as he imposed an 18-year sentence for convictions on second-degree rape and child abuse.
Judge Burns suspended seven years of the term and ordered the man to serve five years of probation when he is released.
The man's lawyer had asked the judge to impose a sentence that would have allowed him to remain at the county jail and possibly go to work during the day.
The rapist -- whose name is being withheld to protect the privacy of his daughter -- wiped away a tear as the judge pronounced his sentence. As sheriff's deputies led him away, his mother, sobbing, said, "I love you, baby."
"I love you, Mom," he replied.
For nearly two hours, the man's friends and relatives had described him as a hard-working, caring and honest person who often thought of others before thinking of himself.
"He's a fine person," the man's girlfriend said from the witness stand. "He's a big part of my life. I know he's been found guilty, but I want him to come home."
Assistant State's Attorney Eileen McInerney argued that home is the last place the man should expect to go.
"He raped his daughter," the prosecutor said. "He robbed her of her childhood when she was 5 years old."
When Judge Burns convicted the man after a two-day bench trial, he said the case was one of believing the daughter's word over her father's. The daughter was not in the courtroom yesterday.
The man was indicted by a Carroll grand jury in September 1992 after child and sexual abuse investigators taped a phone conversation between the daughter and her father in which he admitted molesting her.
The girl had recounted the abuse in 1991 to a counselor, who alerted investigators.
The case was the first successful use in Carroll County of consensual telephone monitoring, in which investigators tape phone calls between accusers and suspects.
James J. Fabian, the man's attorney, argued yesterday that his client should have been granted a new trial because the taped phone call violated his constitutional rights.
As he did before and during the trial, Judge Burns rejected that argument and cited the taped conversation as proof of the man's guilt.
The convictions are the second for the man involving his daughter. In 1988, he pleaded guilty to assault, and prosecutors dropped child sexual abuse charges. The man served five years on probation.
In that case the child's mother -- who was then married to the man -- said she saw him fondling the girl in 1987. That incident led to the breakup of the marriage.