Monday, March 17, 2008

Rapist, burglar sent to prison


A convicted rapist and burglar, described by his own attorney as a “Dr. Jekyll,” was sentenced Thursday to 24 years in prison -- eight years for each of the three Findlay women he victimized.

Hancock County Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph Niemeyer imposed the consecutive eight-year terms on Charles H. Artressia, 49, of Findlay, for a December 2004 burglary and rape on North Cory Street, an April 2005 burglary on Park Street, and a June 2005 burglary on North Cory Street.

Artressia's Hancock County sentence will partly overlap a 15-to-50 year prison sentence he received last month in Wyandot County for a 1995 rape and burglary of a 72-year-old Upper Sandusky woman.

Hancock County Prosecutor Mark Miller said the two sentences mean Artressia will be in prison until he is at least 73 years old.

“He will have to serve at least 24 years before being considered for parole,” Miller said. “Even if he would get out after serving the Hancock County sentence, he would still be on parole for another 26 years.”

Artressia has been held in the Hancock County jail since confessing to the Findlay and Upper Sandusky crimes.

Indicted in both Hancock and Wyandot counties, he pleaded guilty to charges in each jurisdiction in January.

In February, Artressia got the maximum sentence from Wyandot County Common Pleas Judge Kathleen Aubry for rape and burglary charges, under 1995 sentencing laws.

Artressia had faced up to 40 years in prison on the Hancock County convictions Thursday. But Judge Niemeyer followed sentencing recommendations made by Miller and Hancock County Public Defender Michael Galose, Artressia's attorney.

Niemeyer also found the defendant to be a “Tier 3” offender under Ohio's sex offender classification law. That means if Artressia was ever released from prison, he would have to tell a sheriff's office where he lives and works for the rest of his life.

Galose said Artressia is a married father of four children who “comes from a good family.” He said his client was remorseful for his actions.

“If there is a way he could undo what he has done and make things right, he would do it,” the court-appointed attorney said.

Galose said Artressia's criminal conduct in 2004-05 was at least partly due to a severe crack cocaine addiction he had developed.

Authorities said the defendant wore a nylon hose over his head and forced a woman to engage in sexual conduct during the first North Cory Street break-in.

In the others, Artressia forcibly entered homes and struggled with female residents but was unsuccessful in sexually assaulting them.

“This was not the Charles Artressia that his family knew,” Galose said Thursday. “If ever there was a case of Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this is it. Dr. Jekyll was the addictive personality of this defendant.”

Artressia, dressed in an orange jail outfit, spoke briefly at the hearing. Only one of his victims was present, and she didn't address the court.

“I want to apologize to the court for being here under these circumstances,” he said to Judge Niemeyer before turning and looking to the victim, and then to his brother, sister and wife who were seated in the back of the courtroom.

“And I want to say I'm sorry to my victims, and most of all to my family.”

Artressia's arrest last summer came after authorities had linked the three Findlay incidents to the Wyandot County crime in 2006 through DNA. Tests of semen, hair and sweat samples collected from the four crime scenes revealed they had come from the same man.

But while police knew one man had committed all the crimes, Artressia didn't become the prime suspect until police obtained a list of possible suspects from the Ohio Job and Family Services Department.

Authorities wanted to find the owner of a pair of bifocal glasses which had been left behind during the June 2005 break-in.

Serial numbers on the glasses indicated they had been issued to a Medicaid recipient, which led police to ask Family Services for the names of white males, between the ages of 45 and 55, who were welfare recipients and living in Findlay during 2004 and 2005.

Family Services opposed the release of the records due to confidentiality laws, but in a ruling last June, Findlay Municipal Court Judge Kevin Smith said police had a right to the documents for the purpose of investigating the crimes.

In early July, Family Services provided a list of 48 men. Artressia's name was on the list.

When interviewed July 26, Artressia confessed to Findlay Police Det. Jay Myers and Wyandot County investigator Bill Latham.

Additional DNA testing further confirmed Artressia's involvement.

“This was a case that would have never gotten solved without a lot of good police work,” Miller said Thursday.

Contact staff writer J. Steven Dillon at: (419) 427-8423

No comments: