R-H Staff Report
June 17, 2014
PREBLE COUNTY — Gary L. “Ray” Steele was sentenced on Wednesday, June 11, to 8 years in jail for attempted rape, a felony of the second degree, and 8 years to life in prison for being found to be a “sexually violent predator,” according to prosecutors.
The 8-year sentence is a mandatory prison term, and is the maximum sentence for a felony of the second degree, according to Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gractia Manning.
The 8 years-to-life indefinite prison term is also the maximum Steele could have been given for the sexually violent predator specification, according to officials.
Steele was also sentenced after his “no contest” pleas and subsequent finding of guilty by the court to prior to trial, for: “trespass in a habitation when a person is present or likely to be present,” a felony of the fourth degree, and two counts of “theft,” a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Steele was not sentenced on the “aggravated burglary” charge or the “assault” charge, according to Manning, because those offenses merged with the attempted rape for the purposes of sentencing.
The court also elected not to sentence Steele on the minor misdemeanor “possession of marijuana.”
The charges to which he pleaded “no contest” to were ordered to be served concurrently to the 8-to-life sentence.
According to Manning, the judge cited Steele’s lengthy criminal record and the testimony presented at the sexually violent predator hearing as reasons why he sentenced Steele to the maximum 8-years-to-life in prison.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Manning represented the State of Ohio at the trial and sentencing, with James Vanzant representing Steele. Judge David N. Abruzzo presided.
Steele was convicted by a Preble County jury on Wednesday, May 28, after a two-day jury trial in the Preble County Court of Common Pleas. Manning represented the State of Ohio at the trial as well.
According to Manning, Steele was arrested “after night-long escapade on Jan. 1, which began by him stealing merchandise, including women’s undergarments, from Wal-Mart in Eaton at about 2:45 a.m. From there, Steele stole numerous bicycles, entered the home of a resident on Short Road in Camden without permission, and hit a guardrail on U.S. 127, losing several bicycles and shattering the back window of the purple Dodge Neon he was driving.”
Steele’s night culminated at Northedge Apartments in Eaton at approximately 7 a.m., where he began knocking on doors in building 210.
According to reports, a 67-year-old resident answered her door, and Steele pushed her inside and told her he was going to rape her, then took her to the ground and struggled with her, partially removing his pants in the process.
Dep. Paul Plaugher and Dep. Shane Hatfield of the Preble County Sheriff’s Office were attempting to locate Steele and the vehicle, and found it in the parking lot at Northedge.
“As they looking inside the purple Neon, they heard screams of “Help!” and “No!” coming from inside building 210, Manning said. The two immediately responded, locating the apartment that was the source of the screams with the assistance of a neighbor of the victim, who was calling 9-1-1 at the same time.
The deputies entered the victim’s apartment and stopped the attack. Steele left women’s underwear with the tags still on them inside the victim’s apartment. The victim suffered bruises but was otherwise physically unharmed.