SANDPOINT — The Idaho Court of Appeals is upholding a life sentence imposed against a Bonner County man who drugged and raped a vulnerable 16-year-old girl.
Defense counsel for Dean Duane Stevens Jr. argued 1st District Judge Steve Verby abused his discretion by imposing excessive sentences, but the appeals court did not find them unreasonable, according to an unpublished opinion released on Nov. 8.
“Therefore, Stevens’ judgment of conviction and sentences are affirmed,” Chief Judge David Gratton and judges Sergio Gutierrez and John Melanson said in the opinion.
Stevens, 41, was charged with supplying the teen with methamphetamine before raping her in a remote cabin north of Ponderay in 2009. Stevens took the girl to the cabin after she agreed to pose for nude photographs in exchange for money.
Stevens entered Alford pleas to the charges, meaning he admitted no wrongdoing but conceded he could be convicted and wanted to partake in plea negotiations. Alford pleas are regarded no differently than guilty pleas at sentencing.
At his sentencing hearing last year, Stevens denied raping the teen.
“I did not rape her. There was nothing forcible about anything,” Stevens said.
Verby imposed a fixed life term on the rape charge and a consecutive 25-year sentence for delivery of a controlled substance.
Stevens later filed a post-sentencing plea for leniency, but it was not timely filed. Had Stevens met the filing deadline, Verby said he would not have relaxed the sentence.
“Tying up an underage, mentally challenged victim and then raping her is the type of crime that requires a defendant to spend the rest of his life behind bars,” Verby said in a written ruling.
Stevens is serving his sentence at the Idaho Correctional Center in Kuna, according to the Idaho Department of Correction.
Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said he was pleased by the higher court’s affirmation of Verby’s sentence.
“There was a great deal of work that went into this investigation and prosecution,” said Marshall. “I am sorry the victim endured this horrific assault, but I am proud of her for coming forward so no other girl has to meet the same fate by the hand of Stevens.”