Prison ordered in DNA case

Match in database led to conviction in '89 attack

Chicagoan gets 30 years

Anne Arundel

July 18, 2002|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A Chicago engineer who was the first person charged with a sex crime in Maryland based almost exclusively on a "hit" in a national DNA computer database was sentenced to 30 years in prison yesterday.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Pamela L. North said she was disturbed not only by the violent 1989 attack on a Linthicum woman, but also by two profiles presented yesterday - one depicting Gary Pescrillo, 46, as an emotionally isolated sexual deviant given to blackouts, the other showing him as an engaged family and community man who apparently has gone years between assaults.

"It makes you a little bit scarier, in my point of view," North said.

Under terms of an April plea agreement, Pescrillo was to receive no more than 30 years in prison for a first-degree sex offense. The maximum possible sentence is life in prison.

North sentenced Pescrillo to 45 years, but suspended 15 years of that. She added five years of probation, the first two on house arrest.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen E. Rogers was pleased that Pescrillo got the maximum under the agreement, and said she was "happy he got more, the two years on home detention." The victim, who sat in court with her parents, did not want to comment.

Defense lawyer Joseph F. Devlin, however, wanted no more than 20 years incarceration, and is expected to seek a change in sentence. With his plea agreement, Pescrillo didn't admit his guilt but acknowledged that there was sufficient evidence to convict him.

The defense failed in a request to have Pescrillo referred for an evaluation to Patuxent Institution, the sole Department of Public Safety facility geared toward treatment.

North rejected that because Patuxent has no sex offender program, but ordered therapy during probation.

Michael K. Spodak, a Towson psychiatrist hired by the defense, testified that Pescrillo would benefit from Patuxent programs. He described an angry man, depressed over three major problems in a year: his brother's June 1988 suicide, a missed promotion at work and the demise of his first marriage.

He said Pescrillo had the sexual disorder paraphilia, suffered blackouts (Pescrillo maintained he might not have remembered an attack due to a blackout) and tended not to accept responsibility for his actions.

Prosecutors said Pescrillo showed no remorse until his apology in court yesterday.

Asking for leniency, Pescrillo's father said he wanted to spend time with his son. An ex-wife asked for treatment so that Pescrillo could rebuild a relationship with their daughter.

Rogers argued that Patuxent's limited space should go to criminals more amenable to treatment. Pescrillo told an investigator that he did not consider himself a criminal, despite three convictions.

Rogers called "bogus" Pescrillo's assertion that he could not recall the clearly planned assault, in which she said he wore a mask and tied the victim with rope he brought. Under questioning, he told police he may have had sex with a woman in Baltimore, but didn't remember her name, Rogers said. It was unclear why he was in Maryland at the time.

Nobody initially knew who the masked gunman was who broke into the victim's home June 28, 1989, threatened to kill her and sexually assaulted her.

But county police kept the evidence, and in May 2000, the attacker's genetic profile was sent to authorities for comparison with thousands of known sex offender profiles in the National DNA Index System. Police were notified three months later of a "hit" - a match with a man registered in Illinois as a sex offender based on a 1994 North Carolina conviction for taking indecent liberties with a child. It was the first such match for a sex offense that occurred in Maryland.

His arrest later that year shocked his neighbors in Chicago, who had no idea he was a sex offender. He was registered as one at a different address.

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