20-year-old gets 5 years in rape case

Girl, 13, in wheelchair was assaulted

half of Savoy term suspended

`I am not a menace'

Man had hoped to be teen-ager's boyfriend

April 22, 1999|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF

His eyes filled with tears yesterday as Joey Savoy sat in an Anne Arundel Circuit courtroom listening to a prosecutor describe him as a rapist who preyed on a 13-year-old girl confined to a wheelchair.

He kept his eyes on a crumpled piece of yellow paper on which he had written a statement to the court, and then he read it aloud.

"I am not a menace to society," said Savoy, wearing baggy black designer jeans. "I just want a second chance."

Judge Ronald A. Silkworth said he could not overlook Savoy's admission in February, when he appeared in court without a lawyer, that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him of rape for the incident last May. The judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison and suspended half of that. State sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 10 to 18 years for second-degree rape.

"I just cannot get away from the facts in this case," said Silkworth, who said he found it difficult to send the 20-year-old to prison. He also ordered that Savoy's name be added to the state sex offender registry.

Savoy gasped and clutched the cross hanging around his neck as the judge rendered his decision.

Neither the victim nor her family were present at the sentencing hearing.

Heather Hostetter, the public defender assigned to represent Savoy at sentencing, told the court that Savoy deserved leniency because of his previously clean criminal record and because of the high regard in which he is held by his employers at Mattress Discounters. The store sent the judge a letter praising Savoy's work ethic and promising to rehire him.

Savoy has worked in the stockroom since dropping out of the 11th grade three years ago.

Assistant State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling asked the judge to remember the girl in the case.

"This is not just an incident. This is rape, and rape is a violent crime," she said. "There is no such thing as consensual sex with a child."

Savoy had hoped to be the teen-ager's boyfriend. They had been friends for eight months before the rape in May. The two talked on the phone and spent time at her home in Severn.

Her family encouraged the relationship, Hostetter said.

The night of the rape, they were at her parents home. They discussed whether to start a sexual relationship, Hostetter said. Savoy had only recently found out that the girl was 13, she said.

They began having intercourse while the girl's father was in another part of the house. The girl screamed, and her father took her to the hospital.

Savoy admitted to police that he had had intercourse with the girl. He said he stopped when she started screaming.

"No one is more sorry than my client," Hostetter said in court. "This was someone he liked, someone he was trying to have a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with. Give him a chance. This is the most horrible thing that has ever happened to him."

In February, Savoy entered an Alford plea, in which he did not admit guilt but agreed that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him of rape. He had saved for months for a defense attorney but could not afford one and didn't know a public defender could be provided.

Savoy grew up in the Bay Ridge Garden public housing complex in Annapolis. His mother died when he was 4, and he and his five siblings were raised by their father, William.

"I don't know what is going on with my son," said William Savoy, 56, a retired Prince George's County Department of Public Works employee. He cried when the judge read his son's sentence.

Savoy liked to bowl and play arcade games. He went to the racetrack with his father and wanted to be a mechanic, said Charles Cully, his best friend since 1987.

"I just want him to come home," he said.

Pub Date: 4/22/99

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