Durham attacker sentenced to at least 32 years
The young mother who was sexually assaulted and nearly killed in her Durham home faced her attacker at a sentencing hearing May 24, where a judge confirmed that Richard A. Massie will serve at least 32 years in prison for his crimes. (See “Like looking in the eyes of Satan,” CN&R cover story, May 12.)
She sat just three seats down a table from Massie and told the court how the events of Oct. 20, 2004, had affected her and her family.
“The only reason I made it out of my house alive was a miracle of God,” she said. “If he gets out he will harm someone else.”
The survivor’s husband, mother and pastor also addressed the court, and friends and family members waited outside the courtroom for four hours to lend their support just by being there for the half-hour sentencing.
Instead of the borrowed suit he wore to his trial, Massie came to court in a black-and-white-striped prison jumpsuit, his arms and legs shackled. Appearing jittery, Massie bounced up and down slightly in his seat.
Three people showed up in support of Massie, and his ex-mother-in-law spoke. “I want to say how sorry I am that this happened to him and the victim,” she said. “If you know him, he’s not like that. … Gosh-darned chemicals got into his brain and ate him up. He needs a mental institution, not prison.”
On April 22, a jury convicted Massie on felony charges of sexual assault and torture, with enhancements for committing the acts during a burglary and while armed with a deadly weapon.
Deputy District Attorney Kelly Maloy had argued that Massie had been watching the 31-year-old mother of four from a beat-up travel trailer two lots over from the family’s home on Goodspeed Street. The woman was home with her 3-year-old son when she saw Massie, who came bearing a knife, reflected in the bathroom mirror as she was finishing a shower.
Massie overpowered the woman, who fought back furiously, and after violating her sexually with his fingers and mouth he proceeded to punch and kick her and slice her neck 11 times with jagged shards of glass from picture frames that broke during the struggle. She eventually escaped by vaulting out the bathroom window, severely injuring her back.
“I had to answer to my [now] 4-year-old why I left him in the house with a bad man,” she told the court. “He asks if he ever has to live in the bloody house again.”
Maloy filed a Statement of Aggravation with the court arguing that Massie should serve consecutive, not concurrent, sentences due to the brutality of the crimes, Massie’s long criminal record and the fact that he was on parole at the time of the assault and had been returned to prison six times in the past after his parole was revoked.
But Judge James O’Reilley was already on the same page. Agreeing with the jury and Probation Department recommendations, O’Reilley sentenced Massie to 25 years to life on each of the two counts, including enhancements. He must serve 25 years of one sentence and seven years of the other before being eligible for parole.
“In this case, horrible things happened to a very exceptional person,” he said, adding that she fits the definition of “survivor” more than “victim.”
O’Reilley said that if he isn’t alive by the time Massie, 37, is up for parole, he wants to make it known for the record that, “I do not believe Mr. Massie should ever be paroled.”
Massie’s court-appointed public defender, Robert Radcliffe, argued that the sentences should not run consecutively because the conduct was the same for each of the two felony counts. “Double-sentencing is prohibited,” he said.
Massie was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of about $25,000 to various entities, although it’s unclear whether he has any assets.
In tears, the victim’s mother said her “heart goes out” to Massie’s own mother. “I can’t imagine the pain she must be feeling knowing what her son has done.”
“He had only his own lustful gratification in mind as he waited for her to be alone,” she said. “The emotional and physical damage he has caused to her family can never be compensated for.”
The victim said that, due to her spiritual convictions, she has forgiven Massie for his actions. “That does not let him off the hook. It just frees me,” she said.
Massie’s ex-mother-in-law said that Massie believes in God, but, “he was not with God that day; that is evident.”