By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2000
NEW PORT RICHEY -- No one could prove Oscar Blackwell's rape of a 95-year-old Holiday woman precipitated her death four months later. But for many familiar with the October 1998 attack, there seemed little doubt it crippled her will to live.
"You may not have legally murdered that woman, but, Mr. Blackwell, you killed her spirit just as surely as you sit here today," Circuit Court Judge Stanley Mills told the convict Friday morning, sentencing him to 30 years in state prison.
Blackwell, 60, a former mechanic, was convicted in December of involuntary sexual battery, largely on the basis of a minute blood spot -- found on the seat of his Ford Ranchero -- that a new form of DNA analysis linked to the victim. By all accounts, the attack psychologically destroyed the woman. Physically tiny, she stood no chance of fending off the muscular Blackwell, said Clarise Freese, a rape counselor, who read a statement from the victim's son.
After the rape, the statement said, her decline was rapid. Seven days later, she had a heart attack. Several months later she was placed in hospice care and died just before her 96th birthday.
Blackwell likely will serve most of the 30-year sentence because of a state law that says an inmate must serve 85 percent of the sentence, according to lawyers on both sides.