Rapist of 3 girls is guilty on all counts
Share with others:
For the defense attorney, she asked the jurors to remember that her client is human.
"Michael Lipinski is someone's son. He has a mother. He has a father. He's someone's brother. He's someone's husband. He has children," said Assistant Public Defender Michelle Collins. "The human element transcends [the charges against him]."
But Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka told the jury deciding Mr. Lipinski's fate that he was anything but human.
Calling him at times "a monster," and "the bogeyman," she told the jury of six men and six women that there was no doubt that Mr. Lipinski is guilty.
"This case has been proven not beyond a reasonable doubt. Not beyond most doubt, but beyond any and all doubt," Ms. Ditka said.
The jurors must have believed her. After deliberating for less than two hours over lunch, they found Mr. Lipinski, 40, of Penn Hills, guilty on all charges.
He will be sentenced by Judge Jeffrey A. Manning on Dec. 13.
Mr. Lipinski was charged with the rapes of three girls, ages 3, 9 and 17, between 1998 and 2005. Their cases remained unsolved until February 2009, when a national DNA database found a match between evidence in each girl's case and Mr. Lipinski.
A few months earlier, he was required to provide a DNA sample to the state Department of Corrections after being convicted of another sexual assault.
"Thank God for the DNA database," Ms. Ditka said following the verdict. "This is every parent's nightmare. You're at home in the one place you're supposed to be safe."
Mr. Lipinski, who told detectives his aggressive sexual behavior was fueled by drug use, broke into the homes of all three victims in the middle of the night while they were sleeping.
In the case of the 17-year-old, Ms. Ditka told the jury, on Aug. 28, 1998, Mr. Lipinski entered the girl's East Hills home, where she was sleeping in her mom's bed. He held a butcher knife to her throat and raped her.
In the next instance, on April 11, 2002, Ms. Ditka said Mr. Lipinski entered a house in Wilkinsburg and snatched a 3-year-old out of a bed where she was sleeping with her mother and little brother. The girl was raped and left alone in Highland Park, where she was found hours later by a passer-by.
Stretching out the little girl's sleeper pajamas along the front rail of the jury box, she went on, "She was that big."
On Nov. 13, 2005, a 9-year-old girl was taken from her Brighton Heights home and was sexually assaulted.
"Only someone inhumane would walk in and snatch that 9-year-old," Ms. Ditka said, after recounting the details of the girl's attack. "Does any piece of that sound like anything other than a monster?"
In urging the jurors to convict, Ms. Ditka asked them to consider what the victims think about when they go to bed.
"I can tell you what they think of," she said. "They think of the bogeyman. Give them a reason to close their eyes and think of something better. Give them a reason to sleep safe for the first time in years. Give them a reason to think justice really exists."
Ms. Collins, who called no witnesses for Mr. Lipinski, attempted in her closing to poke holes in the prosecution's case.
She wondered why investigators never found fingerprints at any of the crime scenes, and why they didn't record her client making what the prosecution has claimed were incriminating statements.
Further, Ms. Collins asked how it was possible that a stranger would break into two of the homes in which there were dogs, but neither of the dogs barked.
"There are some pieces of the puzzle that are missing," she said.
As for the DNA evidence, she questioned its reliability and why the rates in the population varied from the different samples from which it was taken -- blood, saliva and semen.
"Aren't these numbers the same in every situation?" Ms. Collins asked.
But Ms. Ditka discounted that argument. She told the jury the DNA evidence was so strong that there wouldn't be another person matching the profile found on the evidence on more than two Earths.
"Only one person in the entire population of the Earth could have done it," she said. "It's Michael Lipinski."
After the verdict was read, Ms. Collins said the defendant had been offered a plea deal to avoid a trial that would have resulted in a 20- to 45-year sentence. He rejected the plea because he told Ms. Collins "he couldn't plead guilty to something he didn't do."
He now faces a sentence that is considerably longer, perhaps more than 100 years.
After the trial, Ms. Ditka said she hopes that for the victims, being able to testify against their attacker will help them.
"I think for the first time in a number of years, they got the power back," she said.
First Published September 17, 2010 12:00 am