Rapist sentenced to 50 years

The Baltimore Sun

A homeless man was convicted yesterday of a brutal July 2005 rape in Severna Park, in which he broke into a woman's home, then bound, blindfolded and beat her before repeatedly assaulting her.

Rodrick Lee Wren, 37, was sentenced to life in prison with all but 50 years suspended after entering an Alford plea to a charge of first-degree rape. The plea means he did not admit guilt but acknowledged that authorities had enough evidence to convict him.

Wearing a dark-green jumpsuit and shackles, Wren told the court he was sorry the attack happened but that he was guilty only of withdrawing money with the woman's ATM card, taken from her purse after the attack.

"The only part I played was using the ATM card," he said in a deep, quiet voice, his shackles jingling as he turned to the victim and her family. "The person who did it is still out there."

Deputy State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling, however, told Circuit Judge Robert A. Silkworth that DNA evidence conclusively linked Wren to the attack.

"This was a very strong case that we brought against the defendant," she said after the conviction. "We wanted to put in place a sentence that would keep him in prison for the rest of his life, and we will feel like we have done that."

Kiessling said the attack began about 11 p.m. July 16, 2005, after the victim, who lived alone, returned home from a night out with friends, made some hot chocolate and sat down in her bed with a book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

While she was reading, Wren broke into her home and threw himself on top of her, authorities said. He punched her in the face several times, blindfolded her with a pillowcase and bound her hands and legs with duct tape before raping her.

Kiessling said Wren then splashed a "bleach-like cleaning fluid" around the home to cover his tracks and attacked her again, wearing baby-oil-coated latex gloves in hopes of obscuring DNA evidence. He also stole the ATM card and threatened to kill her if she did not give him the PIN number for the card, authorities said.

Police arrested Wren, who was living in a wooded area near the Severna Park Library, three days later after receiving several leads from photographs taken at ATM machines where the victim's card was used five minutes after the victim called 911. A torn nightgown, latex gloves, duct tape and the woman's purse and jewelry were found near the woman's home, authorities said.

In a statement from the victim read in court by Kiessling, the victim said she had several plates inserted into her face after the attack and was terrified she would not survive the assault.

"After nearly two years, I still have a startle reflex when I hear something loud or when someone comes up behind me," she said in the statement. The Sun does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Other charges filed against Wren, including first- and second-degree assault and first-degree burglary, were dropped as part of plea deal with the state's attorney's office. He will not be eligible for parole until he serves at least 25 years.

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