Guilty Plea in Arkansas Rape-Killing

B E N T O N V I L L E, Ark., April 18, 2001 -- A man charged with choreographing thefatal rape of a 13-year-old boy pleaded guilty today in a dealwith prosecutors that spares his life.

Davis Don Carpenter, 39, will spend the rest of his life inprison for the Sept. 26, 1999, rape and slaying of JesseDirkhising. Prosecutors said Carpenter diagrammed an attack carriedout by his lover, Joshua Brown.

Brown was sentenced last month to life without parole afterbeing convicted of first-degree murder. Circuit Judge David Clingersaid he was satisfied the case ended with both men avoidingexecution.

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

Under a deal, Carpenter pleaded guilty to rape and capitalmurder 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 andstepfather.

Carpenter: 'I'm Sorry'

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

Brown, 23, told police that he bound Jesse with duct tape andraped him with a variety of objects, including food, but neverintended for the seventh-grader to die.

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

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