A 15-year-old Puyallup boy faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to kidnapping and raping a 7-year-old neighbor girl and then choking her unconscious and leaving her for dead last summer.
Melvin Carlos Edwards entered a modified guilty plea that saw him convicted as a juvenile of attempted first-degree murder and as an adult of second-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping.
Superior Court Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck sentenced Edwards to the custody of the state’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration until he turns 21 on the attempted murder conviction.
He then will be transferred to the state Department of Corrections to serve a yet-to-be-determined adult sentence on the rape and kidnapping convictions.
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Deputy prosecutors Kevin Benton and Angelica Williams said they would recommend a sentence of 13 years to life on those charges. The end date would be determined by the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.
That sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 31.
Edwards could have demanded a hearing to determine whether all the charges should have been treated as juvenile offenses, but he made a deal with prosecutors in which he waived his right to do so on the rape and and kidnapping counts.
The deal saved him the prospect of a potentially longer sentence served solely in adult prison, which does not have the same kinds of programs available for children as the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration.
All told, Edwards will be locked up for at least 19 years and must register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.
Wednesday’s hearing was mostly perfunctory, with van Doorninck asking Edwards a series of questions to make sure he understood what was happening and that he agreed with the deal.
He said he did.
As part of his plea, Edwards admitted he lured the girl into a wooded area near the apartment complex where they lived in July 2013 under the guise of looking at a bird’s nest.
Once there, he sexually assaulted her before choking her until she stopped kicking and gasping for air, court records show. He then went home.
Friends and relatives searched for her for about two hours before calling police when the girl did not return home that evening. Authorities led by a bloodhound found her that night.
She was bloodied, covered in dirt, partially undressed and barely able to speak, but she identified Edwards as her attacker, court records show.
The girl required surgery for some of her injuries.
Edwards later told detectives he tried to kill the girl, “so she couldn’t tell anyone,” court records show.