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Man pleads no contest to rape, burglary of neighbor

Derwin Springer (BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN BENNETT) CAPTION Derwin Springer, Jr. photographed in Penobscot County Superior Court in Bangor on Tuesday, December 23, 2008 during his first appearance on charges of gross sexual assault and burglary. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The Passadumkeag man accused of breaking into a neighbor’s home and raping the woman who lived there last October pleaded no contest Monday in Penobscot County Superior Court to charges of gross sexual assault and burglary.

Derwin “Tiger” Springer Jr., 39, is expected to be sentenced later this month or in early November.

A no contest plea results in a conviction just as a guilty plea would, Justice John Nivison said in accepting Springer’s pleas.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor said outside the courtroom that Springer entered the no contest pleas because he had “no recollection” of the events on Oct. 29, when the break-in and sexual assault took place.

Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, told the judge that DNA taken from the victim a few hours after the burglary and sexual assault matched Springer’s DNA.

Silverstein told reporters after the pleas were entered that the results of the state’s DNA test had been confirmed by an independent lab before he discussed the changes of plea with his client.

“This was a horrible incident,” Silverstein said outside the courtroom. “He’s been very cooperative. He voluntarily gave authorities a DNA sample. It came as much of a shock to him as it did to [the victim] that his DNA was a match.”

Silverstein said that Springer could not remember what happened that night because of his substance abuse issues.

Roberts outlined for the judge the evidence he would have presented had Springer sought a jury trial.

The victim was asleep in her bedroom in the early morning hours of Oct. 29, 2008, the prosecutor said. She was awakened when a man placed a gloved hand on her nose and mouth. She told investigators that she struggled with the man but was unable to breathe and lost consciousness.

When the woman came to, Roberts said, she had a pillowcase on her head, she was naked from the waist down and the man was attempting to rape her. She told him to stop at least three times, but the man did not speak to her.

After the sexual assault, the prosecutor said, the victim said she heard the basement door that leads to the outside close. She removed the pillowcase from her head, then tried to call the police but her phone did not work. The victim then drove to her son’s home and called police.

The woman was taken by ambulance to Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln and transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where evidence was obtained using a rape protocol kit, according to Roberts.

When investigators went to the woman’s home after interviewing her at EMMC, they found pry marks on exterior doors, including one in the basement, the prosecutor said. They also recovered a pillowcase with duct tape on it.

Springer was one of many residents of the small community interviewed by police, according to Roberts. He was one of several men who volunteered DNA samples.

The defendant faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the Class A gross sexual assault charge and up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 on the Class B burglary charge.

Roberts said after the plea changes that he most likely would recommend Springer be sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but 15 years suspended on the more serious charge.

Springer is being held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail.

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