Daniel Holtzclaw, who was once a police officer in Oklahoma City, was sentenced to 263 years in prison on Thursday. Holtzclaw is being arrested for sexually assaulting and raping a number of black women who lived within the area he regularly patrolled.
In December, reports confirmed that Holtzclaw was convicted on 18 counts of rape, sexual battery, forcible sodomy, and procuring lewd exposure. He was also charged with 36 separate counts of sexual assault, which came from accusations made against him by 13 women.
Eight of the 13 women pressed charges against Holtzclaw, which lead to his convictions and sentencing. The judge at his trial could have decided to let him serve his sentence simultaneously, which could have provided him with the opportunity to leave prison while he was still alive. But instead, the judge elected for Holtzclaw to serve his maximum sentence of 263 years, so he will spend the rest of his life in jail.
Judge Timothy Henderson, who is also a former police officer, was scheduled to make an announcement regarding the sentence at 10:00, but a motion from Holtzclaw’s attorney to file for a new trial delayed the proceedings for several hours.
Holtzclaw’s lawyers believed that a Facebook post from a city detective and an interview with one of the trial’s jurors suggested that the prosecution had withheld important information during the trial that could have helped the defense’s case. Prior to announcing Holtzclaw’s sentence to the public, Henderson denied the motion for a new trial.
Before his sentence was determined, some of Holtzclaw’s victims were given the opportunity to discuss how they felt he should be punished for his crimes. Each victim stated that their encounters with him effected their entire life and they believed he should receive the maximum sentence as punishment for his crimes.
Before his criminal trial, Holtzclaw attended Eastern Michigan University on a football scholarship. He graduated from the university in 2008 with a degree in criminal justice. The 29-year-old had served as a police officer in Oklahoma City for three years before he was arrested.
Each of the 13 women who accused Holtzclaw of sexual assault were black. According to reports, he would meet the women, and if they interested him, he would perform background checks on them. Those who had a record or an outstanding warrant really attracted him.
Prosecutors believe that he preyed on black women because he felt that would be the best way to mask the attacks. Prosecutor Lori McConnell said that she believed Holtzclaw chose these women because he trusted that they would not tell people about what he was doing, and more importantly, he thought authorities would not believe them if they did.
But eventually, Holtzclaw targeted the wrong person. He raped a 57-year-old woman who had no prior records and was not residing in the area he often patrolled. She decided to report the rape, which prompted others to testify and ultimately led to Holtzclaw’s arrest. The specific statements given to police from the victims of the attacks helped prosecutors arrest Holtzclaw.