Comments Off on Man gets 13-year sentence for rape in long-cold case

A former Springfield man was sentenced Wednesday to more than 13 years in prison in connection with a long-cold rape case in Eugene.

Jason Richard Papaleo’s own DNA fingered him for the 1998 rape by knifepoint, prosecutor Bob Lane told Lane County Circuit Judge Suzanne Chanti at a sentencing hearing. Alaska officials obtained a sample of Papaleo’s DNA and submitted it to the national CODIS database last year after his conviction for burglary in that state.

In December, the Oregon State Police crime lab notified Eugene police of a database “hit” matching Papaleo’s DNA sample with semen evidence entered into the database following the January 1998 rape.

The case is at least the second Lane County rape case solved by a DNA match in the national database, Lane said. According to the FBI, CODIS has produced more than 142,700 “hits” assisting in more than 137,100 investigations nationally.

Papaleo, now 40, pleaded guilty to first-degree rape on Tuesday, the day his trial was scheduled to begin in the case.

He did so against the advice of his defense attorney, David Saydack, because “he still feels guilt and shame for what he had done,” Saydack told Chanti.

In a tearful statement before his sentence was imposed, Papaleo repeatedly apologized to the victim, saying he couldn’t turn around and look at her “because I can’t stand to see the hurt and pain from the ugliness that I put inside you.”

“Please, please forgive me,” he said.

The victim attended the sentencing but did not speak.

Lane told Chanti that Papaleo attacked the woman, then 19, just two days after he completed a Lane County Jail sentence for previous drunken driving and burglary convictions. He grabbed her from behind and “put the dull edge of a knife against her throat” about 1 a.m. as she walked home from the WOW Hall, the prosecutor said. Papaleo then walked the victim into some bushes, where he raped her.

Had he been promptly caught, Papaleo probably also would have faced felony kidnapping and sex abuse charges, Lane noted. But the statute of limitations has expired on those crimes. Lane urged Chanti to impose a 15-year prison sentence, but allow Papaleo to earn up to a 20 percent “good time” reduction of the last five years based on his prison conduct. The prosecutor said he recommended the latter option because Papaleo took responsibility by pleading guilty, sparing the victim and the state from the emotional and financial costs of a trial.

Saydack urged Chanti to impose a 10-year prison term. He called the 1998 rape a “terrible crime,” but said such behavior was “an aberration” for Papaleo.

“In 1998, he was caught in the grips of very serious methamphetamine addiction, which fueled his crimes then,” the defense attorney said.

He said his client has been clean of methamphetamine for at least six years, has been working, and is “trying to be a productive member of society.”

Saydack also pointed to an evaluation by a local sex offender specialist, which he said showed that Papaleo had a low risk of committing future sex crimes.

“Mr. Papaleo is not the same menace he was then,” the defense attorney said.

Chanti told Papaleo that she appreciated his apology in court.

“I believe your grief and shame over what you’ve done is authentic,” she said, but added: “No doubt that what you’re feeling right now is immeasurably less that what the victim felt.”

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