Man sentenced to 20 years in 1982 rape in Towson

January 13, 2004|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

Darren Lyndell Powell, a 37-year-old with a history of sexual assault and burglary convictions, was sentenced yesterday for a 1982 Towson rape originally blamed on an innocent man.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Susan M. Souder sentenced Powell to 20 years in prison - the length of incarceration prosecutors and defense attorneys had negotiated in a plea agreement this past fall.

Powell pleaded guilty in September to breaking into a 47-year-old woman's ground-floor apartment 22 years ago and raping her. In 1983, a jury convicted Bernard Webster, a city man, of the crime.

Webster served 20 years of his 30-year sentence before DNA evidence proved his innocence and freed him in 2002.

That same DNA evidence, which Webster's lawyer had discovered on an old lab slide at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, soon connected Powell to the crime.

After Webster's release, Baltimore County police ran the genetic profile against a state database of convicted felons' DNA. Powell, who had spent most of the years since the rape in prison for another sexual assault, came up as a match. Police arrested him in November 2002.

Assistant State's Attorney John Cox said yesterday that he agreed to a sentence shorter than Webster received because the victim wanted closure.

The Sun does not reveal the names of sexual assault victims without their permission.

"We were trying to avoid the victim going through trial again," Cox said. "Getting a guilty plea was important to us. We wanted to get finality and surety for the victim."

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