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Former Hernando resident takes plea deal in molestation case

BROOKSVILLE — A 19-year-old Jamaican man charged with lewd and lascivious molestation opted to take a plea deal Thursday that spared him from a lengthy prison sentence but likely will lead to his deportation.

Odaine Wayne Kerr, dressed in a borrowed blue suit, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of lewd and lascivious conduct and received 18 months in prison followed by five years of probation.

The charges stem from an incident in May 2007 when he had sex with his underage girlfriend. At the time, he was 18 and she was 15.

Kerr was arrested in December in Cape Coral, near Fort Myers, where he lived after leaving Hernando County.

The victim claimed the sex was not consensual and Kerr was initially charged with rape. He admitted that they had sex but he claims it was consensual. Prosecutors later amended the charge.

Kerr still faced a maximum 15 years and a minimum 38 months in prison if found guilty at trial.

Circuit Judge Jack Springstead agreed to the lighter sentence only after the victim's mother consented and asked to resolve the case without a trial. "We just want justice to be done," she told the judge.

Springstead sentenced Kerr as a sex offender, though defense attorneys plan to challenge that designation in a future hearing.

Under a new state law, dubbed the "Romeo and Juliet" provision, judges can remove a first-time sex offender from the state registry if the victim is older than 14 and no more than four years younger than the offender.

All of it might not matter, though. Kerr was born in Jamaica and moved to Florida at age 8 as a permanent resident on a green card. Springstead informed him the felony conviction would likely lead to his removal from the country.

"Is there any way I don't have to be deported?" Kerr asked the judge. Not likely, said Springstead.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

Former Hernando resident takes plea deal in molestation case 10/02/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 3, 2008 6:32pm]

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