A prosecutor who negotiated a plea deal for a man convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl has resigned.
Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle stepped down Wednesday afternoon, according to a release from the Carter County District Attorney’s office.
In a Murray County District Court case, Pyle prosecuted Benjamin Petty, accused of raping a 13-year-old girl at Falls Creek church camp in 2016. He pleaded guilty to charges of forcible sodomy, first-degree rape and rape by instrumentation in January, and was sentenced to probation and three suspended sentences of 15 years in prison.
Petty is blind, a fact that Pyle told NewsOK.com figured into the plea deal.
"The big thing is Mr. Petty is legally blind and the parents (of the victim) live out of state and this little girl lives out of state and didn't want to make all the travels back and forth," Pyle said.
Pyle could not be reached for comment.
In an emailed statement, Carter County District Attorney Craig Ladd, who oversees the 20th Judicial District in which Murray County is located, said he disagreed with the sentence.
“I want it to be known that I strongly disagree with the lenient manner in which the Benjamin Petty case in Murray County was prosecuted in many respects. The manner in which that case was prosecuted does not reflect my thoughts or position on how rapists, especially those who prey on children, should be dealt with in the criminal justice system,” Ladd said.
Attorney Lee Berlin defended Benjamin Petty in the case. In a phone interview, he said he was shocked and disappointed at Pyle’s resignation.
“It appears to be politics and bureaucracy at its finest. He is a fine gentleman, an outstanding lawyer, a very fine prosecutor. And his assessment and analysis as it regards to his capacity and ability to win this case were appropriate and they were correct,” Berlin said.
Berlin said he thought Pyle made the right decision in negotiating a plea deal for a suspended sentence and probation. “He had less than a coin’s toss chance of winning this thing at trial,” he said. “As far as the state’s concerned, they should be happy they have a conviction and a registration, and that the victim in this case didn’t have to testify.”
NewsOK.com reports there is currently a civil case pending.
Assistant District Attorney Tim Burson will replace Pyle on Monday, according to the release.
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