TRIAL Man, 47, convicted of raping children using threats
The defense lawyer said the youths' testimony was unlike anything he had heard.
By ROGER G. SMITH
YOUNGSTOWN -- The jury had a few reservations, but George Schewirey still faces life in prison because he raped children using threats.
A jury of nine men and three women convicted Schewirey, 47, of East Auburndale Avenue, on Monday on five of eight rape counts after deliberating about five hours in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Schewirey shook his head and twisted his face as Judge R. Scott Krichbaum read the verdicts.
Judge Krichbaum is to sentence Schewirey this morning. Also, prosecutors are requesting that Schewirey be declared a sexual predator. A hearing on that request is also scheduled for this morning.
The jury found Schewirey guilty on the four most serious charges, raping youths under age 13 with threat or force.
Each count of rape with threat of a child under age 13 comes with a mandatory sentence of life in prison with parole possible after 10 years.
Jurors also gave a guilty verdict on one count of raping a child using threat after the youth turned 13. That conviction brings a maximum of 10 years in prison.
The jury found Schewirey innocent on three charges involving rape of children over age 13 with threat.
All the charges involved sexual conduct with two girls and a boy.
The split decision perplexed defense lawyer Gary Van Brocklin. He said he was disappointed because it seems the jury didn't believe some of the testimony but still issued the five guilty verdicts.
"It's odd. That's the best I can say," Van Brocklin said.
Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Krueger said a few of the innocent verdicts were to charges centered on the same period of time. The jury asked a question about the time frame just before announcing it had reached its decision.
Jurors may have decided to issue innocent verdicts because they were confused on those counts but already established guilt on the other charges.
One rape count was dismissed during the trial. The time frame of the alleged sex abuse didn't match the testimony of one of the children, Krueger said.
Krueger said during closing arguments that Schewirey threatened to kill the mother and siblings of the alleged victims if they reported abuse.
Krueger dismissed defense arguments that the children plotted against Schewirey and made up the accusations, despite a witness testifying that she overheard two of the youths having such a talk. A restraining order was in place against Schewirey and the children didn't need to make sex abuse allegations to keep him away, she said.
She called the three children brave for giving their testimony, much of it requiring graphic descriptions.
Van Brocklin questioned the truthfulness of the youths' testimony. Their testimony was the strangest he has encountered in 30 years in the courtroom, he said. They wouldn't answer questions and were almost impossible to cross-examine, he said. Special allowances can't be made just because the witnesses aren't adults, he said.
One of the children lied about sexual abuse in the past, Van Brocklin said.
In addition, Schewirey had heart surgery and medications that made it physically impossible to carry out the sex abuse at issue, despite testimony to the contrary, Van Brocklin said.