TAMPA — The last time Joseph Frye committed rape, he was given 40 years in prison but got out in 19.
On Wednesday, he was convicted of raping a 75-year-old widow only 27 days after his release in August 2009. This time, a judge vowed that Frye will never go free again.
"Mr. Frye," said Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe, "you are a predator. You are an animal. I do not desire that you spend one more day of your life as a free person."
The judge then sentenced Frye, 52, to four consecutive life sentences for three counts of armed sexual battery and another count of armed burglary.
Tharpe apologized to Frye's victim, saying her attacker should never have been released after serving only half of his previous sentence. "The state of Florida failed you," he told her.
Jurors deliberated for one hour. They had heard Frye's taped confession, they were shown DNA identification, and they had listened to the victim's testimony that she had tried to shoot him, but he overpowered her.
They also heard Frye tell a Tampa detective, "I'm not even supposed to be alive."
The victim's account bore similarities to a rape Frye committed in 1985. He was 25 and had been out of prison for less than a month when he forced his way into a home at gunpoint and tied up a woman, her husband and her son. He kidnapped, raped and robbed the woman.
In closing arguments Wednesday, Assistant Public Defender Kenneth Littman called it a case of mistaken identity. He said the bedroom was illuminated by only a night-light.
Littman said Frye's confession was a false one. He pointed out Frye's history of mental illness and his use of psychotropic drugs for two decades.
"They get a paranoid schizophrenic to confess," he said. "Good enough."
Littman called the DNA match "a slender thread to base a conviction on."
Assistant State Attorney Rita Peters said, "All the details came out of (Frye's) mouth."
Before sentencing, Frye told the judge he had used drugs before the attack and could remember little about it.
"I'm not using that as an excuse," he said. "I'm sorry for what happened."
John Barry can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3383.