Despite arguing as eloquently as Perry Mason, a woman who was sexually assaulted in front of her 4-year-old daughter was unable to convince a judge to throw the book at her attacker Monday.
Stevens County Superior Court Judge Larry Kristianson was impressed when the Colville substitute teacher cited numerous court cases to justify a tougher sentence than Prosecutor Jerry Wetle recommended. And the judge seemed moved when she told how David Robert Rickard, 34, also of Colville, stalked her, broke into her home and tried to rape her.
Rickard was originally charged with burglary and first-degree attempted rape, but pleaded guilty to burglary in a plea-bargain.
The divorced mother, 34, said the attack last July terrorized her daughter and caused her 11-year-old son to say he wants to die because he failed to protect his mother.
The boy’s schoolwork is suffering because he sleeps so little, his mother said. He fears another attack and wants to be ready to respond next time. He also fears she will die of AIDS because of the bloody assault, she said. “That’s so sad,” Kristianson said.
He had no doubt the woman feared during the attack that Rickard might have already killed the 11-year-old boy and his 8-year-old brother. Or that she believed Rickard intended to kill her and then attack her 4-year-old daughter.
“My daughter was screaming and wetting the bed she was so scared,” the woman said, recounting the struggle as her attacker climbed on top of her and attempted to rip off her nightgown.
“I wonder what he would have done to her after I wasn’t able to protect her,” the woman said, noting the girl was next to her in bed. “Not only did he know (she) was on that bed, he was rubbing up against her.”
The victim also recalled her panic after she got free of the drunken Rickard and persuaded him to leave. At first she couldn’t find her daughter, and then she worried about the impression her bleeding mouth would make on the child.
“Blood was pouring everywhere,” she said. “I was choking on my own blood.”
In additional to the emotional scarring the family suffered, Kristianson noted that the victim herself may suffer physical effects of the attack for a couple of years. Months of orthodontic work will have to be redone because Rickard jammed his fingers down the victim’s throat, gouging her mouth and partially detaching her tongue.
Kristianson agreed that the emotional effect on the children provided a legal basis for giving Rickard a sentence beyond the standard range.
But the judge said, based on how other cases have been handled, the prosecutor’s recommended sentence of nearly 10 years was appropriate for the current crime.
Testifying during the sentencing hearing, Rickard didn’t deny his victim’s version of the attack.
His attorney, Paul Wasson, complained that a presentence investigation dwelled on Rickard’s five previous felony convictions and failed to point out that he was born to an alcoholic mother who committed suicide when he was 3.
But Kristianson said state probation officer Norm Scott properly dwelled on Rickard’s criminal history. Scott supported the victim’s request that 10 years be tacked onto the nine years and eight months Prosecutor Jerry Wetle recommended in a plea bargain.
The sentence is the maximum under guidelines for first-degree burglary with sexual motivation.
Rickard had been charged with first-degree attempted rape in addition to burglary, and maximum consecutive sentences on both counts would have gotten him almost 20 years in prison.
Kristianson said Rickard has an escalating history of stalking women, a crime he called “loathsome.”