Oklahoma Man Pleads Guilty to Raping 4-Year-Old Child and Gets One Year in Jail

earlsThomasBartheldIn Oklahoma, David Harold Earls, 64, has received a one-year jail sentence after raping a 4-year-old girl. The sentence has caused an outcry across the country and moves in the legislature to recall District Judge Thomas Bartheld, who gave Earls a twenty-year sentence with nineteen years suspended under a plea agreement between the prosecutors and defense counsel. He also fined Earls $1,000.

The allegations in McAlester, Oklahoma came to light in a conversation over the dinner table between the girl and her grandmother soon after the girl turned five. The mother said that she was uneasy about Earls, who liked to play with the children and even tried to look up his record. She did not see that Earls had an extensive record, including shooting a man, stabbing a woman or that he had spent over six years in prison. The mother allowed him to babysit and watch the children over three or four weekends. The mother had previously been the subject of an unfit ruling where the child was removed from her home as she took classes on being a parent.

The low plea was the creation of the prosecution and defense — not the court. Bartheld insists that he was locked into a plea agreement with the prosecution: “Some people think I could have given a different sentence, and I couldn’t. In any plea bargain, where there is a negotiated plea, the court can’t change it.”

The prosecution was faced with a serious problem. There was no forensic evidence and the child was not going to testify. While they gave a detailed affidavit, the children changed their story later. The daughter walked about the hearing room in the middle of her testimony and did not offer incriminating testimony to support the charges. The prosecutors could not show that she was fit to testify.

During the hearing, Earls’ attorney asked, “Do you remember what David Earls did?”

She said, “I don’t remember David Earls doing anything.

Under the circumstances, it would appear difficult to get a trial let alone a conviction when there is no forensic evidence and conflicting testimony from the victim. The prosecutors acted in what they insist was the best interests of the child.

There may be new charges. The daughter Earls has come forward to say that she was raped by her father when she was a child, here. Denise Earls, 43, calls her father “a monster.”

Since Earls was held in prison pending trial, he will only serve three months given his time served.

Earls reportedly has terminal cancer and has an estimated three years to live.

In the meantime, legislators are calling for the removal of District Judge Thomas Bartheld of Pittsburg County is now under fire, many saying he should be thrown off the bench. He is also being blamed for a ruling in an earlier notorious case in this small town. In 1995, Barheld awarded custody of a two-year-old boy to his grandfather, Don Luke, editor of the McAlester News-Capital, after the mother was found unfit. The boy later died from a skull fracture and the grandfather, the mother and the mother’s live-in boyfriend were charged with the boy’s death. However, I cannot see why this ruling was viewed as an abuse by the court. The grandfather was an established figure in the community and a close relative for the purposes of custody. Bartheld has a reputation for making tough evidentiary calls in criminal cases, including another case involving Erick Stachmus who is accused of murdering his wife.

Notably, recently Bartfeld was honored by the Pittsburg County Child Abuse Response Effort (PC-CARE), which includes advocacy for such child victims.

While this case has been highlighted by Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera, the accounts largely omit that fact that there was a virtual absence of admissible evidence. It is far easier to secure convictions on “The No Spin Zone” than in a court of law. More importantly, judges generally uphold plea agreements reached by the prosecution. If this case had gone to trial, Earls would probably have been acquitted or any conviction later thrown out on appeal.

For the story, click here.

13 thoughts on “Oklahoma Man Pleads Guilty to Raping 4-Year-Old Child and Gets One Year in Jail”

  1. What do you think this judge would do if it was his daughter or granddaughter? I am a mother of four, with two granddaughters. If that were my child and the judge ruled that way, I would do everything in my power to have that judge removed from the bench, permanently, He is just as sick as the rapist. Both have now left permenent scars on this child. Wake up America, whats wrong with our society???

  2. CASTERATE the rapist and the judge. There is no excuse in this world that anyone should forgive or excuse a child rapist. If our laws were more strict; like casteration(and forget all these self righteous activists for the cruel and unjust punishment; “you hurt a child then there’s no other alternative but CASTERATION”; maybe there would be a little less of these horrific acts!!!especially on children.

  3. DEATH PENALTY is the only solution against child molestors. He deserves to die!

  4. In the federal system, the prosecution may come to a \”plea agreement\” with the defendant, and the judge can toss it out and sentence the defendant to something completely different.

    A complete bait and switch, he pleas guilty under the believed ageis of a particular sentence, and the judge can take the guilty plea part, but throw out the agreement part.

  5. Up here in Canada courts don’t have to accept a plea agreement. The accused has to plead guilty, then the judge hears the agreement, then the judge has to pronounce sentence. Admittedly it’s rare for a judge to not accept the agreement, but the judge has the last word.

  6. Mespo,
    I agree with your making the best out of a bad situation statement. When the State cannot prove its case, this kind of plea arrangement is better than putting this creep on the street without any controls put on him. The fact that the Fox News idiots don’t want to discuss the facts of a case should not surprise us. They never let the facts get in their way.

  7. Courtrooms are weigh stations for proof not sentiment. If the prosecution sincerely believed it couldn’t secure a conviction by any other means it was duty bound to offer the deal. The defense had every right to accept the deal so offered. The Court likewise had no obligation to substitute its judgment for that of an elected official charged with enforcing the law and prosecuting crimes. I see no miscarriage here merely the best being made of a bad situation by all involved. Would there be rejoicing if the perverse Mr. Earls was let out among the citizenry following a sham trial where all involved knew the inevitable outcome at its outset?

  8. “It is far easier to secure convictions on “The No Spin Zone” than in a court of law.”

    Your point is well taken regarding the publicity, but I think JT’s point has more weight. These are the types of cases that the media uses to make a point beyond the facts of the case. The idiot conservatives, as opposed to those who actually believe in our Constitution, have been using cases like this for years to excoriate “liberal excesses” in the Law. Their false sense of outrage is actually a tool for them to make their political points. The case against this man was weak and in this instance the Prosecutor got the best he could, while the judge understood the situation. My preference would be to have the guy’s penis chopped off, but then that is the visceral part of me, the realistic part understands the needs to limit barbaric punishment.

    Your Vick analogy though holds interest for me. What Vick did was despicable, but he comes from a widespread tradition that turns to animal abuse for fun. He is thus a product of his environment. The fact though that he is a rich Black athlete, whose fairly successful quarterbacking style is highly unorthodox, leads me to conclude that a little too much was made of his case and the punishment went far beyond the ordinary punishment for such an offense. Our sports minded society rewards and lionizes the favored athletes, but really enjoys their downfall if it occurs. See Barry Bonds as another case in point.

  9. AY:
    I see you didn’t get my point,maybe I’m wrong but,With the Vick case it was like a 24/7 news event.This case more than deserves that attention.And when I stated “outraged abouth this case” I meant Michael Vick.

  10. eniobob

    And so many people were outraged about this case.

    I hope I’m making my point.
    And what if the Defense Attorney had done his/her job and the bastard got off. This way there is a conviction, he can be tracked.

    “During the hearing, Earls’ attorney asked, “Do you remember what David Earls did?”

    She said, “I don’t remember David Earls doing anything.”

    What would you do as a Defense Attorney? Ask for a Dismissal once the Prosecutor’s case in chief is closed. The state could not and did not meet its burden. If he was convicted on this, the appeals would be up the wazoo and he would be released. No Evidence other than his own admission. And if he did not take the stand, his silence cannot be used against him.

    So do you see the competing issues here? Justice Today. Sick Bastard.

  11. Although I initially was shocked, after reading the story I think the punishment fits. Although a plea agreement is a binding contract the judge did not have to accept.

    If I had been representing him, I would not have let him plea and taken the chance at trial. The state could not meet its burden. To have brought the charges to begin with says a lot about the Prosecutor.

    My stomach is still sick knowing that these type of people exist. I have told many of a clients I don’t have to like you, I have to represent you within the bounds of law. Which in some cases is HARD. I have withdrawn on a couple of cases where the pain for me was greater than the protection of a constitutional right. I stayed on some I should have withdrawn from because I knew that the next person on the list would have hosed them worse than a Jury.

    I think that it is admirable that the judge did what he did. I may not like it but I was not there.

  12. And so many people were outraged about this case.

    “Apologetic Vick gets 23-month sentence on dogfighting charges”

    Unreal,And there was nationwide reaction to Vicks situation.This is the first I heartd about this case in Oklahoma.

    I hope I’m making my point.

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