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COLUMBIANA COUNTY 2nd trial finds man guilty of rape



Published: Fri, April 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A plea deal could have netted the defendant a lighter sentence, but he turned it down and opted for a trial.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- An East Liverpool man has now been found guilty twice of the same crime.

A jury in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court convicted Corey McKinnon, 26, on Thursday of the July 1997 rape of an East Liverpool woman, who was 31 at the time.

Judge C. Ashley Pike set sentencing for May 23.

McKinnon faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for the first-degree felony. He could be credited for the 26 months he already served from his initial conviction, which was overturned.

Assistant county Prosecutor Tim McNicol said he will argue during sentencing that McKinnon should be designated a sexual predator.

The designation would mean that he must keep authorities apprised of his address after being released from prison.

McKinnon had been free on bond. But after the verdict, Judge Pike increased the bond amount to $500,000 cash or surety. McKinnon is now in the county jail.

Case history: A jury found McKinnon guilty of the same crime in 1998, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

But in January 2001, the 7th District Court of Appeals overturned the conviction.0

The appeals court said the original trial was flawed because the prosecution failed to turn over to defense attorneys a security guard's report that appeared to conflict with statements the rape victim made in court.

In September, the case appeared to be settled when McKinnon pleaded guilty to the crime as part of a plea deal in which prosecutors recommended a four-year sentence.

But McKinnon later withdrew his plea before the sentence could be enacted and demanded a trial, which began Tuesday.

DNA evidence: The security guard report that was a factor in the overturning of the original verdict wasn't introduced as evidence in McKinnon's new trial, McNicol said.

Prosecutors, however, produced DNA evidence that was not available at the first trial, he added.

The DNA identified McKinnon's semen as being on the victim's undergarments after the crime.

McKinnon testified in his own defense this week and insisted the sexual contact with the victim was consensual.

The prosecution argued otherwise, saying McKinnon and the victim did not know each other, and that McKinnon entered her home the day of the crime by saying he had to use the phone.

McKinnon's lawyer, Atty. Lawrence Stacey II of Columbiana, said after the verdict that McKinnon would likely appeal.

"The evidence was sketchy at best," Stacey said.




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