LEWISTOWN - A Lewistown man charged in connection two separate rapes, pleaded no contest to lesser charges in both cases on the day one of the cases was to be heard by a jury.
Tuesday's jury trial for Michael L. Terry, 42, was all set to begin at 8:30 a.m., but over the course of the next several hours, defense attorney Michael Gingerich and Mifflin County District Attorney Dave Molek hashed out a plea agreement after consulting with President Judge Timothy S. Searer.
Under the agreement, Terry pleaded no contest to two counts of aggravated indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault and serve six to 12 years in a state correctional facility. Terry was charged with rape and other related offenses in both cases. Those charges were withdrawn.
Searer advised Terry of his rights to a trial, which was scheduled to start on Tuesday, however the defendant said he wanted to plead no contest to the above charges.
Searer also explained to Terry that although a no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, it is an acknowledgment that the prosecution could convict with the evidence they have.
After court proceedings came to an end, Gingerich said PLEA these were very tough cases, but the plea deal was fair.
Molek said a plea deal was offered to spare the victims from having to testify again, both of whom were present in the courtroom on Tuesday.
PREVIOUS?TESTIMONYThe two young women who were allegedly repeatedly raped by Terry testified in graphic detail during preliminary hearings in December 2011 at Magisterial District Judge Aaron Gingrich's office.
During the first hearing, the then 18-year-old alleged victim testified the sexual abuse by Terry began when she was between the ages of 10 and 11 years old and continued for several years.
The woman testified Terry told her he was having sex with her to "protect her."
She also testified that Terry trusted her not to tell anyone about the sexual contact.
"He said he loved me more than anything ... he said it would cause a lot of problems for him if I told anyone," she testified.
She further stated Terry would sometimes apologize for assaulting her and would cry about it as well.
The alleged victim told police Terry assaulted her over a period of five years starting when she was 11 years old and would give her whiskey and marijuana, police said.
She further testified that she has been diagnosed by three psychologists as having post-traumatic stress disorder, causing her to block out many of the details of the assaults.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Richard Leight testified a telephone conversation between Terry and the alleged victim was recorded. Leight then played the conversation for those at the hearing to listen to.
"Can you tell me why?" the alleged victim asked during the recorded conversation as she broke down emotionally.
"I need to get over this and feel better," she continued.
"Honey I hate to talk on the phone ... everything is fine, nobody did anything wrong," a voice alleged to be Terry's said.
As the recorded conversation continued, the demeanor of the voice alleged to be Terry's shifted in the other direction.
"Honey I was so wrong ... honey I'm so sorry ... everything was my fault," Terry allegedly said.
During the course of the second preliminary hearing, then Mifflin County District Attorney Steve Snook called a 24-year-old woman who claimed Terry assaulted her several times.
The alleged victim in this case testified she was first assaulted by Terry when she was 14 years old.
She testified she was scared of Terry and didn't tell him to stop but tried to squirm away during the first assault.
She further testified that Terry assaulted her approximately 8 to 10 times over the course of several years.
"He would tell me it was OK, it was alright, nobody needed to know. He always said he loved me," she testified.
"I was afraid of him," she said as she explained Terry's violent behavior at times.
She said that the last assault occurred at a hotel in Milroy.
"I felt scared but I felt like after a while, after being told it was OK, like maybe it was normal," she said.
Terry remains incarcerated in the Mifflin County Correctional Facility awaiting transfer to the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill.