Rapist sentenced to 3 1/2 years

Dale William Baldwin

FRONT ROYAL – Six women, all friends or relatives of a convicted rapist, testified on his behalf Thursday, urging a judge to impose little or no prison time on the defendant.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp sentenced the defendant, Dale William Baldwin, to 3 ½ years in prison and five years probation, three supervised and two unsupervised.

Baldwin’s total prison sentence was 15 years minus 10 years suspended and 1 1/2 years for time already served.

The picture of Baldwin that emerged from the witnesses’ testimony was of a peaceful, decent man whose behavior takes a turn for the worse when he drinks alcohol or is hanging around with the wrong kind of people.

“I do think there’s evidence that when he’s drinking, he can be aggressive,” Hupp said of Baldwin, adding that, “I think that’s part of what happened on this occasion.”

Hupp cited Baldwin’s history of alcohol abuse and a meager prior criminal record – a string of charges of public drunkenness – among several factors for imposing a sentence less than the state’s guidelines.

Defense attorney Eric Wiseley said after the hearing he regretted not being able to persuade Hupp at a bench trial earlier this year that his client was innocent.

“My client maintains his innocence,” Wiseley said after the hearing. “I continue to believe in his innocence.”

Under questioning by Wiseley, Baldwin’s sister, Christina Graves, testified that her brother suffered from mental deficiencies as a result of being deprived of enough oxygen at birth, a condition she attributed to their mother’s drug abuse.

She described Baldwin as “sweet,” “quiet” and “positive” when sober but “very emotional” when drinking.

“It’s almost like a counseling session with him breaking down and crying,” Graves testified.

The victim, who did not attend the sentencing hearing, testified at a bench trial in early July that she walked to Baldwin’s house on the night she was raped, June 10, 2013. She said she wanted to speak to Baldwin’s girlfriend but no one was home.

She said Baldwin arrived after about 20 minutes, and the two went inside where they drank vodka for about 30 to 45 minutes.

After going to the bathroom, she walked out to find Baldwin in the bedroom standing naked before her, she testified.

She said he raped her, then left the bedroom during which time she texted several messages to her boyfriend asking him for help.

The victim testified that her boyfriend arrived, kicked down a door and began fighting with Baldwin after learning what the defendant had done.

Beth Vaught, who described herself as a combination of surrogate parent, friend and employer of Baldwin’s warned Hupp that a prison sentence would “kill his spirit,” adding that, “a long sentence will do more harm than good.”

Wiseley said his client was “beat up pretty good” during the 1½ years he spent in jail after he was arrested and charged.

Wiseley said in an interview after the trial that Baldwin needed stitches as a result of the beating. The assailant was an inmate who was convicted of aggravated malicious wounding for stabbing his wife more than eight times in the neck, Wiseley said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com.