Guilty Plea in Arkansas Rape-Killing

A man charged with choreographing the fatal rape of a 13-year-old boy pleaded guilty today in a deal with prosecutors that spares his life.

Davis Don Carpenter, 39, will spend the rest of his life in prison for the Sept. 26, 1999, rape and slaying of Jesse Dirkhising. Prosecutors said Carpenter diagrammed an attack carried out by his lover, Joshua Brown.

Brown was sentenced last month to life without parole after being convicted of first-degree murder. Circuit Judge David Clinger said he was satisfied the case ended with both men avoiding execution.

"These two crimes are terrible and a young man lost his life," Clinger said. "To this date, there has never been a shred of evidence that either you or Josh Brown intended to take a life."

Under a deal, Carpenter pleaded guilty to rape and capital murder in return for two life sentences without parole.

Carpenter admitted in court that he directed the assault — passing notes to Brown — and apologized to the boy's mother and stepfather.

Carpenter: 'I'm Sorry'

"To Miles and Tina Yates, I'm sorry Jesse's gone. ... I tried to save his life but I couldn't, and every day I've prayed for them," Carpenter said.

Brown, 23, told police that he bound Jesse with duct tape and raped him with a variety of objects, including food, but never intended for the seventh-grader to die.

Medical examiners said Jesse died of positional asphyxia — being unable to breathe because of the way he was bound on Brown's bed. Also cited was an overdose of an antidepressant: Jesse was too drugged to move to a position where he could catch his breath.

In his police interviews, Brown said Carpenter choreographed the attack but did not take part. In a jailhouse interview last week, however, Brown told The Associated Press that Carpenter participated.

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