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RAPIST GETS LIFE TIMES THREE

He violently attacked a 66-year-old woman in her home in 2007.

Bobby Lee Black III rested his face in his shackled hands and listened as a judge delivered his fate Thursday morning.

The 21-year-old remained expressionless as he received three consecutive life sentences for the 2007 rape of a 66-year-old woman.

His parents, who frequently attended proceedings over the past two years, were also stoic at the sentence.

They knew life in prison was the only punishment their son could receive.

On March 1, 2007, Black and his friend Jathniel McMichael crawled through a window into the woman's home in Winters Mobile Home Park. They rifled through her belongings, then dragged her out of bed, held her at knifepoint and each raped her, investigators said.

During the trial, an analyst with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement placed the chances at 1 in 330 trillion that DNA left on the victim was from anyone other than Black.

"There's not even that many people on the planet," said Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia on Thursday.

Black was convicted of home invasion robbery, two counts of sexual battery and battery on a person 65 or older.

Black and McMichael were also charged with another rape that occurred a few weeks later. The woman, now 70, said two masked men kidnapped her from her Zephyrhills home, took turns raping her, then threw her into a dark, water-filled quarry. They pushed her van in after her.

McMichael awaits trial.

The back-to-back attacks sent fear rippling through the senior communities of Zephyrhills until deputies arrested the two young men in the crimes.

The second victim has since suffered a series of minor strokes that affected her mobility and speech. Her doctors do not want her to testify again, Garcia said Thursday.

Neither victim is named because of the nature of the crimes.

On Thursday morning, Black's parents were the only ones who spoke on their son's behalf.

They expressed sympathy for the victims, but said there were two sides to every story.

"I know in my heart my son is innocent, no matter what has been said here today," Black's mother, Eunice, said.

"We're feeling down because we know what's going to happen to our son," said his father, Bobby Lee Black.

Black answered only "no sir" when Judge Pat Siracusa asked if he wished to make a statement.

John Laycock, a Sheriff's Office victim's advocate, spoke briefly on behalf of the first victim, who was absent Thursday.

The woman thought a life sentence was appropriate.

"She is very afraid that something might happen to another victim," Laycock said.

He told the court that she suffers emotionally from the attack.

"She also knows and recognizes that Mr. and Mrs. Black are also probably suffering very terribly," he added.

The woman asked Laycock to say she prays for Black's parents and their son.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

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