Thomas Doswell sent back to jail for drug, gun charges

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A man who spent 19 years in prison on a wrongful conviction was sent to the Allegheny County Jail Thursday for 111/2 to 23 months for drug and gun charges.

Thomas Doswell, 54, was arrested in August and pleaded guilty in October to illegally possessing a firearm, drug possession and tampering with evidence.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani sentenced Doswell to incarceration to be followed by three years probation.

Defense attorney James DePasquale requested a sentence that would allow his client to remain in the community, where he has a job and family. Mr. DePasquale said he was happy with the sentence. The standard guideline range was 4 to 8 years in prison.

"I think Judge Mariani was very compassionate with him, but you reach a point where you wear out your good will."

The judge did give Mr. DePasquale permission to file a motion to revisit the sentence in 90 days for possible release to a half-way house or house arrest, the attorney said.

In the meantime, he suggested Doswell seek drug treatment at the jail.

According to the prosecution, Doswell was arrested Aug. 20, 2012, when he was stopped at the Shell gas station at Frankstown and Fifth avenues in Homewood.

An officer on patrol spotted his black Chevy Tahoe, and knew Doswell was wanted as a material witness in a homicide case.

When the officer pulled Doswell over, he was found to have marijuana, crack cocaine and a stun gun. A .38-caliber revolver was found outside his passenger-side window.

"He did something that was wrong," Mr. DePasquale said. "He didn't employ the gun to harm anybody."

Doswell spent 19 years in prison after he was arrested and convicted of raping a woman who worked at Forbes Hospital in 1986.

In 2005, he was released after DNA tests showed he did not commit the crime.

In 2009, he reached a $3.7 million settlement with the city of Pittsburgh for the wrongful conviction.

Paula Reed Ward:, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.

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