WARREN — A Burghill man was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison on Thursday for being convicted of sex offenses with three teenage girls.
The jurisdiction of defendant Elijah D. Peters II has been debated throughout the case and came up again during Thursday’s sentencing hearing before the Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge, Ronald J. Rice, through statements from Peters’ attorney and several of his relatives.
On July 21, 20-year-old Peters of 7740 Thompson Sharpsville Road pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, two counts of gross sexual imposition, one count of unlawful sexual contact with a minor and dissemination of material harmful to minors.
Prosecutors had said the case involved three girls – aged 12 to 14 at the time – who Weathersfield Township police investigated from January 2021.
Attorney Michael Partlow and Assistant District Attorney Gabe Wildman had both accepted the indefinite prison sentence imposed by the judge after Peters underwent two psychological examinations, which resulted in the two experts finding Peters competent to stand trial. .
“The prosecution showed great grace in reducing the sentence in a case that was originally prosecuted as a potential life sentence (prison)”, Wildman told the judge. “There were three young teenage victims involved.”
Rice received written impact statements from the victims ahead of Thursday’s hearing.
Partlow said he disputes the psychologists’ reports and plans to appeal the conviction and sentence to the 11th District Court of Appeals.
At the hearing, Rice heard from Peters’ father, Eli, who said his son has had medical issues since birth, including a hole in his heart. He also spoke of the son’s delays in his intellectual and emotional growth.
“As a young adult, he has the thought processes of a 14-year-old,” the elder Peters said as he asked the judge to show mercy.
A tearful aunt claimed that the defendant had been physically abused in his youth and “does not understand the full repercussions of his actions.”
Peters’ maternal grandmother also spoke about the fact that Peters had “mind of a child” and also begged for mercy from the judge, sending his grandson to a mental institution because “he would be preyed upon by predators in prison.”
Rice, who raised concerns about the defendant’s mental history when ordering the second assessment, also labeled Peters a level 3 sex offender, which means that after his release he will have to register his address with the sheriff’s office. four times a year for the rest of his life. life.
In September 2021, court records show Peters was evaluated by the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship of University Hospitals’ Cleveland Medical Center. After the publication of this report, Rice declared Peters on November 4, 2021, incompetent to stand trial. After spending time at the Heartland Behavioral Center in Massillon, Rice ruled on June 6, 2022 that Peters was competent.
Trumbull County 911 reports indicate that on January 13, 2021, Peters was charged with being in the company of a 12-year-old girl, who allegedly ran away from her great-grandmother’s Weathersfield home. Prosecutors said the charges of rape and gross sexual imposition related to the then 12-year-old child, while the unlawful sexual contact related to another girl victim who was 13 at the time.
Wildman said a third girl victim was involved in the broadcast charge related to Peters sending a nude image of himself to the cellphone.