Life sentence handed down to man accused of raping elderly woman - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

21-year-old gets life in prison for raping 87-year-old woman

Source: Lubbock Sheriff's Office Source: Lubbock Sheriff's Office

By Ann Wyatt Little - bio | email

Lubbock, TX (KCBD) -  A 21-year-old Idalou man will go to prison for life. That's the sentence Lubbock jurors gave Joshua Paul Stephenson Wednesday afternoon for raping an elderly Lubbock woman in her own home.

District Attorney Matt Powell says the age difference between the victim and Stephenson is something that makes this case unusual. The elderly woman's family and prosecutors believe justice was served and life behind bars sends a strong message.

"It was a brutal, brutal crime deserving of a life sentence," explains Sunshine Stanek who prosecuted the case.

"When you add the facts and the sheer brutality it is one of the worse we have done," describes Lubbock County District Attorney Matt Powell who also prosecuted the case.

Powell and Stanek asked jurors for a life sentence. After an hour and a half of talking about what they heard from witnesses for two days, 12 people unanimously agreed Stephenson should go to prison for life. Some of the jurors walked back into the courtroom with tears in their eyes.

"It's not easy for the jury to send a 21-year-old for life but some acts and some defendants earn every day of that," said Powell.

Defense attorney Marvin Williams was shocked when Stephenson abruptly pleaded guilty before the trial started and prepared him for a stiff sentence.

"I talked to him before and we expected under the situation it would be something like life or a substantial term and basically told him to take it like a man and he took it like a man," said Williams after the case was over.

During the punishment phase the victim took the stand and relived the painful memories of when Stephenson broke into her home stole her debit card and hours later returned to rape her.

The 88-year-old woman did not hear Stephenson's sentence, instead her son-in-law read a letter she wrote as part of her victim impact statement.  In it, she told people sitting in the courtroom she thought she was going to die in her own home that she has since moved out of. She went on to write that the incident changes the way she sees life.

She wrote her confessed assailant stole everything from her, yet somehow she was glad that it happened to her and not a younger woman who would have had to live with the memory longer.

"There is the saying that rape is the worst for a woman. It is just as bad for the brothers, sons, daughters, and other family members because you carry it with you for the rest of your life," said Powell.

Prosecutors say the victim's family is proud of how their mother has handled herself considering what she had to go through.

"They believe justice was served and they are grateful the defendant won't have the chance to hurt anyone else," said Stanek about what the victim's family told them.

Stephenson did not have anything to say as he left the courtroom. The 21-year-old will be in his 50s before he is eligible for parole and plans to appeal his sentence.

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