Earlier this week, a judge granted Eric J. Everette early release after spending over four decades of his life in prison. Everette was 16 when he was convicted of raping Lauren McKee, who was also a teenager at the time of the incident.
Everette is now 58 years old and will be able to live out the rest of life as a free man. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 1975. Circuit Judge Charles J. Peters reduced Everette’s sentence to time served plus five years probation.
Everette had maintained his innocence and feels that justice has finally been restored. However, those outside the courthouse do not share his enthusiasm or agree with the judge’s decision.McKee felt that Everette should remain in prison, because he never apologized to her or accepted responsibility.
“It would have been nice for me to be able to be in court and give my side of the story,” she said.
Even though the hearing had been several years in the making, McKee was not aware that it was happening. The hearing had been pushed all the way up to the Court of Special Appeals and sent back to circuit court.
Chief counsel in Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office, prosecutor Antonio Gioia said during the hearing that investigators had made “very, very strenuous efforts to locate” Lauren McKee over the past years, but was unsuccessful in doing so.
The Baltimore Sun successfully located McKee within a few hours of the hearing.
According to The Sun reporter, McKee was “furious” that she was not consulted before Eric J. Everette was released. “All rapists are forever a rapists and you cannot be rehabilitated,” she said.
“He did what he did. I know it. I identified him,” she said. “I was 13 years old and it traumatically interrupted my life. To this day, I still have flashbacks.”
Gioio accepted the responsibility of not informing McKeee. His response was “I failed.”
Everette’s family was satisfied by the judge’s decision, especially is mother.
“I’ve been trying to get somebody to listen to me for 42 years,” said Janice Everette, Everette’s mother. “Through the grace of God, everything came out right today.” She believed that her son had been wrongfully imprisoned.