A man who spent 19 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit pleaded guilty Monday to illegally possessing a gun and drug charges.
Thomas Doswell, 54, could face a prison term when he is sentenced Jan. 2 before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani.
Doswell was arrested Aug. 20, 2012, when he was stopped at the Shell gas station at Frankstown and Fifth avenues in Homewood.
A Pittsburgh police officer on patrol in the area spotted Doswell's black Chevy Tahoe, according to the criminal complaint. He had been wanted by homicide detectives as a material witness in a case they were working.
As the officer pulled him over, she heard a loud noise of metal hitting the ground, the complaint said. When the officer approached Doswell, the affidavit continued, she asked if he had any weapons and he answered, "I have nothing."
During a search of his pants pockets, officers found marijuana, and they found crack cocaine and a stun gun in the console of his vehicle.
A .38-caliber revolver was found outside Doswell's passenger side window.
According to defense attorney James DePasquale, Doswell pleaded guilty based on an agreement with the prosecution that it not appeal any sentence he receives.
While there is no mandatory minimum for the gun possession, Mr. DePasquale said, Doswell faces three to six years in prison in the mitigated range of the advisory guidelines. He has a robbery conviction from 30 years ago that prevents him from owning or possessing a gun.
The attorney plans to ask for house arrest -- based on a number of factors, including that the gun was not fired nor pointed at anyone and that his client did serve 19 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. "I don't know how the judge can ignore it," Mr. DePasquale said.
Doswell was accused of raping a woman who worked Forbes Hospital in 1986. Doswell was released in 2005 after DNA tests showed he did not commit the crime.
He receives a monthly stipend following a $3.77 million settlement with the City of Pittsburgh to compensate him for the 19 years he spent in prison.
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2620. First Published October 7, 2013 8:00 PM