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Published: Wednesday, 11/20/2002

Oregon man is guilty of murder

An Oregon man was found guilty yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court of beating, sexually assaulting, and killing a neighbor he barely knew.

A three-judge panel found Stephen Everett, 19, guilty of aggravated murder with death-penalty specifications in the death of Rhonda Douglas, 46, who was found March 29 in a pool of blood at her home, 4444 Haigh St., Oregon.

Everett, of 2136 Momany St., also was found guilty of rape, aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary. He pleaded no contest Monday.

The panel - Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates, Judge James Barber of Fulton County, and Robert Franklin, who is retired from Lucas County Common Pleas Court - heard evidence and arguments from prosecutors before reaching the verdicts.

Everett's attorneys, Donald Cameron and Ann Baronas, are expected to tell the judges today why their client should receive a life sentence and not the death penalty.

The panel could sentence Everett to prison for life without the possibility of parole or life with the possibility of parole after either 20, 25, or 30 years.

In closing arguments, Jeff Lingo, an assistant county prosecutor, said Everett, who lived less than a block from the victim, went into the house through a back door about 4:30 a.m.

Ms. Douglas was found on the living-room floor after a neighbor noticed a door unlocked. Mr. Lingo said the victim and Everett didn't know each other well, but he may have mowed her lawn at one time.

“Stephen Everett took advantage of a single woman who lived alone,” Mr. Lingo said. “He stabbed her 47 times on the neck, back, and face. He then took a dish towel and wrapped it around her neck. He took her life. He did it in an absolutely purposeful way.”

Everett was arrested the next day at the Birmingham Terrace housing units in East Toledo. He confessed to breaking into the victim's house to steal money, beating and stabbing her, and taking her car. Mr. Lingo said a DNA analysis of blood on a shirt and shoes in Everett's home matched that of Ms. Douglas.

Everett's attorneys called no witnesses, nor did they give opening or closing arguments.

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