'I just want to die right now … I can't do Christmas without my fiancee'

Cary Ashby • Dec 5, 2012 at 11:52 PM

Upset about going to prison, the convicted sex offender hit himself several times in the head with his fist.

"I hate myself," said John L. McBride Jr., 29, of New Carlisle.

Moments earlier, Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway announced he was sentencing McBride to 17 months in prison. In October, the defendant pleaded guilty to an amended charge of attempted sexual battery for a July 16 incident at a Norwalk mobile home involving a 19-year-old mentally challenged woman.

"I just want to die right now. ... If I go today (to prison), I'm going to kill myself," McBride said during a recess. "I can't do Christmas without my fiancee."

Conway took a recess after McBride became increasingly upset and agitated Tuesday. During the hearing, investigator Bob McDowell, of the Huron County Prosecutor's Office, gave the defendant a hug. Huron County Sheriff's Deputy Rich Larson stood close to McBride's side, sometimes putting a hand on his shoulder to calm him down and often having to direct McBride's attention to the judge, who was advising him of his rights.

The victim in the case has the mental abilities of an 8-year-old child. McBride has the capacity of a 13-year-old.

Just before the recess, Huron County Public Defender David Longo stood up abruptly and demanded his client be allowed to withdraw his plea. After Conway later confirmed with McBride that was what he wanted, the judge said not being happy with the sentence isn't a "valid reason."

Longo said his understanding during plea negotiations with Prosecutor Russell Leffler was that the state "was going to take it easy" and was astonished to learn the prosecutor was going to "hammer" his client during sentencing. Leffler had recommended a 17-month prison term. Conway said he understands that the "full range" of sentencing would be available.

"This is kind of a complicated case," Leffler said earlier in Tuesday's hearing.

McBride "took advantage" of knowing the victim was "very slow," said the prosecutor, who noted McBride is "kinda slow himself."

"I don't see a good reason not to impose a lengthy prison term," Leffler said.

Longo, in response, said his client has received MRDD services from two counties and noted he has a "significant psychiatric history." He said McBride is "mentally retarded" and has "a history of mental illness."

"He's disabled; he's never been able to work," Longo told the judge.

"A 17-month prison term would destroy him," the public defender said. "If there ever was a case to temper justice with mercy, this would be it."

Longo also addressed the victim's allegation there was some coercion or use of force.

"The parents of the young lady were home. She did not cry out. In fact, it looks like she helped him through the window," Longo said.

Huron County Sheriff's Detective Bill Duncan investigated the July 16 incident when McBride was in Norwalk visiting his girlfriend, presumably the woman to whom is now engaged.

Deputies have said McBride entered the victim's home through her bedroom window, held her down and had sex with her. McBride reportedly left through the same window. Leffler, at Tuesday's emotional hearing, mentioned the woman may have helped McBride with getting access to a chair near the window, but didn't elaborate.

McBride talked the victim "into doing something and he should have known that she wasn't surely competent," Leffler said earlier. Longo said Tuesday the case came down to "the person who is less retarded got charged."

A sexual assault nurse examiner found evidence of trauma after she examined the woman at the Nord Center in Lorain County. Deputies collected evidence and sent it to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for processing.

McBride, before making his first of several loud emotional outbursts, said he admits he had "a role in what happened."

"I'm extremely sorry for what I did," said the defendant, who then said he wasn't "completely to blame."

Once McBride is released from prison, he will have to register his address with the sheriff's office where he'll live every 90 days for the rest of his life. His Tier III sexual offender classification also comes with community notification. He won't be allowed to live within 1,000 feet of a daycare center, preschool or school.

McBride served 96 days in the Huron County Jail before being released on an unspecified court order; that time will be credited toward his prison term. He is expected to be on five years of post-release control.

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