N. Phila. Man Found Guilty In 1994 Rape

Posted: February 03, 1996

The 30-year-old North Philadelphia woman said she hadn't seen Thomas Respes or his family for years, so when he suggested that she stop into his apartment to see his sister, she agreed.

She didn't know he was a convicted sex offender.

``He lured her inside to rape her,'' Assistant District Attorney Curtis Douglas said yesterday.

A jury agreed, convicting Respes, 39, of Camac Street near Susquehanna Avenue, of the 1994 rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Common Pleas Judge Ricardo C. Jackson revoked bail and ordered sentencing for April.

The mother of three said that once she was inside the apartment on Oct. 3, 1994, Respes took her into an empty room, then put a gun to the back of her head, and beat and sexually assaulted her.

``I was afraid he was going to kill me,'' the woman said. ``He kept punching me. I just did what I thought he wanted me to do.''

When a resident of another apartment heard the woman's screams and ran into the apartment during the rape, Respes shouted, ``This girl's a hooker, get out of here.''

The victim managed to grab her clothing and flee. Police arrested Respes a short time later.

``This was an evil and violent act,'' Douglas said.

Respes did not testify. His lawyer, William Stewart, claimed that the woman consented to sex with him. Respes has a conviction for attempted rape.

DEATH ACCIDENTAL

Attorney George Newman told the judge that when his 18-year-old client tossed a rock at another man last June 27, he had no idea his action would lead to the man's death.

Assistant District Attorney Ann Pontario argued that the rock thrower, Hanif Stokes, 18, of Marvine Street near Olney Avenue, had committed a malicious act and should be found guilty of third-degree murder for causing the death of Steven Jones, 18, of 10th Street near Tabor Road.

Pontario said Jones died of head injuries on July 1.

Yesterday, Common Pleas Judge C. Darnell Jones sided with Newman, ruling that Stokes, a construction worker, had accidentally killed Jones. He acquitted Stokes of murder, but convicted him of involuntary manslaughter. Sentencing was deferred.

According to the testimony at the non-jury trial, when Jones challenged Stokes to a fight, Stokes, whose left hand was in a bandage, tried to avoid a battle by reaching out with his right hand to shake with Jones.

Jones is alleged to have rejected the offer, and the two men began fighting.

Stokes then stepped back, picked up a rock and hurled it at Jones, hitting him in the front of the head and knocking him to the ground.

Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Bennett Preston testified that Jones later died from injuries he suffered when the back of his head struck the ground.

Newman said that to convict Stokes of murder, the prosecution would have had to ``show an evil intent'' on the part of his client.

``There certainly was no intention to kill in this case,'' he said.

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