After 20 months of legal maneuvers and the services of three defense lawyers, Patrick Adkins III, 35, dodged Wednesday’s scheduled jury trial and entered an Alford guilty plea to two counts of rape.
Visiting Common Pleas Judge Steven P. Beathard then sentenced the former West Jefferson resident to 18 years in prison with no chance of early release as part of a plea deal struck just minutes before the trial was due to start.
Under terms of the arrangement, Assistant Madison County Prosecutor Nick Adkins (no relation to Patrick) dropped language that specified the victim was younger than 10, but added “forcible” to new rape charges. To the defendant, it meant the difference between life and 18 years in prison.
The Alford plea allowed Adkins to maintain innocence while admitting prosecution evidence against him was so overwhelming, it would likely lead to conviction. The plea also prevents Adkins from lodging future appeals.
As 28 potential jurors waited in the hall, prosecutor Adkins and Assistant Ohio Public Defender Bill Mooney hammered out a resolution to the case that began on Jan. 25, 2012, with accusations of rape involving a 7-year-old girl.
Mooney said his client wanted to “relieve pressure on the victim’s family.” The prosecutor said the child’s mother agreed to the deal.
Adkins fired Josh Beasley, his first court-appointed attorney in 2012. The second, Fred Ballam, resigned.
Adkins then elected to represent himself, with Mooney acting as stand-by legal counsel.
All that changed Monday when Adkins conceded technical aspects of the case were beyond his grasp. Beathard then appointed Mooney to defend the man full time.
Adkins maintained innocence, arguing he was framed by a former girlfriend who “planted” his semen on the child victim.
But prosecutors said Adkins changed his story — at first blaming analysts at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for improperly analyzing the semen for DNA, then accusing the former girlfriend of retaliation.
Much of the prosecution’s case rested on DNA evidence collected from the child’s underwear on Jan. 26, 2012. Mooney expected to raise issues at trial regarding that evidence, as well as results of a medical examination at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Beathard expressed his appreciation to the jurors-in-waiting, saying Adkins’ last-minute plea was not uncommon. Confronted by the realities of a jury and BCI science, defendants often elect to bargain, he noted.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.