FORT COLLINS, Colo. — An Air Force airman who was sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to a string of sexual assaults in Colorado now will face Philadelphia prosecutors.
Troy Graves, 30, allegedly strangled University of Pennsylvania graduate student Shannon Schieber in 1998 and sexually assaulted five women in Philadelphia between 1997 and 1999.
"We are going on the assumption that we are going to try a death penalty case," Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said. She said she did not know when Graves would be extradited to Philadelphia, but he is expected to remain in Colorado for up to 60 days.
Public defender Kathryn Hay said Graves entered his plea in the hope that Pennsylvania authorities would not pursue the death penalty.
Choking back tears, Graves said Friday in court that he was sorry for the assaults. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping and seven other counts in a series of attacks on eight women near the Colorado State University campus last year.
"I understand it’s unlikely this single word will perform any miracle healing or anything," Graves said. "Please understand these apologies are from my heart, and let that be a beginning."
Graves, who was a senior airman at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., was charged April 25 in Pennsylvania. A day later, he was charged in Colorado with kidnapping, unlawful sexual conduct, burglary and robbery.
A former neighbor called Fort Collins authorities earlier this year after seeing a composite drawing of the rape suspect. Authorities later matched Graves’ fingerprints to a set found on a balcony outside the apartment of one of the victims.
District Judge Terence Gilmore said he imposed a life sentence because of the nature of the crime and the victimization and fear caused by the defendant.
Graves is still in the Air Force. Warren base spokesman Sgt. Kurt Arkenberg said officials will review his case before taking any action.
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