03/02/07 — Man gets 50 years for rape

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Man gets 50 years for rape

By Lee Williams
Published in News on March 2, 2007 1:49 PM

A man charged with the rape of an 83-year-old woman in August will spend more than 50 years in prison, a Wayne County jury decided Thursday.

Twelve jurors took about an hour and a half to find Atkins guilty on two counts of second-degree rape and one count of first-degree burglary in connection with the incident that began Aug. 2.

Atkins' facial muscles tensed as the jury delivered its verdict.

His victim, who was in courtroom for the verdict, seemed relieved.

Wayne County Superior Court Judge Jack Jenkins sentenced the 51-year-old Atkins to serve more than 50 years in prison.

As Atkins was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, Wayne County Assistant District Attorney Paige Rouse bent down and spoke to the victim, who is now wheelchair-bound and lives in a nursing home.

"I haven't added up all of the time, but he isn't coming out," Ms. Rouse said. "He's got a lot of time. It's all because you came out and helped. You can put it behind you now."

Atkins, a convicted thief and rapist, was described as a wanderer who struggled with alcoholism. He lived on the street until one day he moved into a vacant home on Royall Avenue, officials said.

He even got identification with his new address and was spotted by neighbors moving furniture in and mowing the lawn.

Neighbors cautioned the elderly victim about Atkins, according to court documents. Atkins' misdeeds with women were well known in the community, the victim's nurse said Thursday.

The woman was home alone in her kitchen in the 1100 block of Atlantic Avenue when he climbed into her window Aug. 2, forced her into a bedroom and raped her twice. He left Aug. 3.

Bruce Hulse, Atkins' defense attorney, argued the relationship was consensual, not rape.

At the end of the four-day trial, Hulse told the court that Atkins would appeal the case.