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McKeel found guilty of rape, battery charges

Last Modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 7:16 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

A 14th Judicial District Court judge on Thursday found a man guilty of raping a 94-year-old DeQuincy woman in January 2012.

Judge Ron Ware found Gabe McKeel Jr., 50, guilty of aggravated rape, aggravated burglary and second-degree battery. McKeel is to be sentenced March 1.

Prosecutors said McKeel broke into the woman’s home while she sat in her bedroom and beat and raped her.

She was able to identify her attacker as a “new man” in town who had fixed her screen door and whom she planned to hire to rake leaves.

Ware heard the victim’s videotaped testimony Wednesday, the first day of the trial.

Witnesses Thursday included the nurse who examined the victim, along with a forensic analyst.

Also Thursday, Elizabeth Carrier, a Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s officer, testified that McKeel told her, “I don’t know what made me do what I did.” She said he told her he would agree to plead guilty if he were offered the death penalty.

Nurse Ashley Hornsby recounted the story the victim told her that night, which paralleled the account the woman gave in the taped testimony.

Hornsby said the woman told her that the attack happened while she was in the recliner in her bedroom and that the man held her down and strangled her.

The woman identified her attacker as “Gabe McKeel,” Hornsby said.

Hornsby said the woman told her she believed she had been sexually assaulted, but had lost consciousness. Hornsby said she found evidence of vaginal tearing.

Monica Quaal, a forensic analyst with the Southwest Louisiana Crime Lab, said DNA found on vaginal swabs taken from the victim matched McKeel’s.

In her closing, prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth told Ware that the victim was able to identify the attacker from the beginning, calling him the “new man” or “the beater.” She picked him out of a photo lineup.

“She knew the person who did this was that person, and she never varied from that,” Killingsworth said. She reminded Ware that McKeel’s wedding ring had the woman’s blood on it. “Everything corroborates what happened that night,” Killingsworth said.

In finding McKeel guilty, Ware reminded Killingsworth that she had said the evidence easily proved McKeel’s guilt. “That’s an understatement,” he said.

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