Pregnant Rape Victim Forgives James Biela In Court

By  | 

Nearly two months after a Washoe County jury sentenced him to death, the punishment for convicted rapist and killer James Biela just got even steeper.

Judge Robert Perry handed down an additional sentence to Biela, life with the possibility of parole for each of three counts of rape, and one count of kidnapping. This, to be tacked onto his death sentence for the January 2007 murder of 19-year-old college student Brianna Denison.

Compared to a nearly month-long trial, the sentencing Friday morning was very brief. Judge Perry says while James Biela is already facing capital punishment, the judge felt the need to tack on an additional sentence, in order to honor the other two rape victims in this case.

Only one woman took the stand. James Biela's first rape victim, who revealed that she and her husband are now several months pregnant with a baby girl. But she says these joyous moments in her life have been overshadowed by tragedy. The victim asked James Biela to look at her, while she told him how the night he raped her at gunpoint has altered her life forever.

"Though you didn't murder me, you killed the trusting and vivacious woman I was moments before you turned my world upside down," she said, reading from a piece of paper.

Brianna Denison's family attended the sentencing, offering support to the other two rape victims. Her aunt Lauren says she was pleased with the outcome, and happy to see James Biela once again dressed like a prisoner, his shackles clinking on their way in and out of the courtroom.

"When you go out and rape and pillage a community, and run amuck...yeah, he's dressed for the success he created for himself," said Denison.

Biela stayed silent throughout the sentencing, and never once looked up at his victim...quietly accepting the punishment handed down to him. After court adjourned, attorneys on both sides of the case reacted to the sentence.

"The biggest concern is protection of the community. That's why the state asked for the maximum sentence possible because regardless of what happens with each individual case, we want to keep James Biela off the streets for the rest of his life," said Deputy District Attorney Elliott Sattler.

"He's holding up pretty well. He was a model inmate before. He still is. He's easy to talk to. He's polite, professional. It actually makes me feel pretty bad," said James Biela's public defense attorney, Maizie Pusich.

Even the jury that recommended the death penalty for James Biela was in the courtroom, although they were not required to be. One of them, who we'll call "Roberta," says while she and the other 13 members have resumed their lives, the trial and the victims will always stick with them.

"Being in a trial of this magnitude and importance, we felt it was important to see the process through," said "Roberta.

Prosecutor Elliott Sattler says maximum sentences were necessary in this case just incase any of the convictions are overturned on appeal. Ffr instance, if the death penalty sentence is thrown out, Biela would still have to serve a minimum of 36 years in prison before being considered for parole.

Judge Perry says he plans to set the date for Biela's execution by mid August. Once that happens, there will be an automatic appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

In the meantime, James Biela is being held in the special housing unit at the Washoe County Jail.