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Man receives multiple life terms in rape case

By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD and DAVID KARP
Published September 19, 2003

TAMPA - Dwayne Wilson was convicted Thursday of kidnapping and raping a 16-year-old girl and sentenced to multiple life terms in prison.

Prosecutors said that on the night of March 5, 2002, Wilson pretended that his car was broken down to persuade the teenager, who was working at an Odessa convenience store, to give him a ride.

Wilson put a pellet gun to her head, forced her to drive him to isolated areas in Odessa and raped her twice. He released her in Pasco County.

"She lost her innocence," prosecutor Mike Sinacore told jurors in his closing argument Thursday.

Defense attorney Nick Sinardi told jurors that Wilson's sex with the girl was consensual, and he was guilty only of unlawful sex with a minor.

He questioned why she didn't try to hit him or fight back.

"I was scared," she said on the witness stand. "I said, "Please don't."'

Sinardi also asked why she didn't call police immediately from her cell phone.

"I didn't know where it was," she said. "My house was close. I didn't even think about it."

She called 911 after she spoke to her mother at home. On the phone, she was sobbing and her voice cracked.

The operator asked:

"How old are you?"

"I'm 16," she said.

The phone went silent.

"Hang in there," the operator said.

The 44-year-old defendant was not present during closing arguments, having said he wanted no part of the "circus" that was his trial.

A Hillsborough jury took about an hour to find him guilty of armed kidnapping, sexual battery with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe sentenced Wilson to four consecutive life terms in state prison plus 15 years, the maximum sentence.

Wilson has convictions in Michigan for attempted sodomy, Minnesota for aggravated robbery and Indiana for robbery, theft and rape.

He had only recently been released on the Indiana rape charge when he committed the rape in Odessa.

"We're very happy to put this dangerous person in prison for the rest of his life," Sinacore said.

- Christopher Goffard can be reached at 813 226-3337 or goffard@sptimes.com

[Last modified September 19, 2003, 01:48:06]


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