Minutes before sentencing for last year's rape of an 11-year-old Kensington girl, Jose Carrasquillo told Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Ramy I. Djerassi he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea.
He was innocent, Carrasquillo, 27, told the judge Tuesday. In fact, he was the Antichrist, a revelation that came to him in 2002 in prison and that the CIA has tried to cover up. And immigration agents wanted to send him to China "to assassinate the president."
And he could prove it all, Carrasquillo added, if only officials would give him a "polyester-graph."
Djerassi wasn't buying. There would be no polyester-graph, polygraph, or lie detector. The guilty plea would stand, and Djerassi sentenced Carrasquillo to 30 to 66 years in prison for the June 1, 2009, rape of the 11-year-old and the attempted assault of a 16-year-old girl who escaped and whom Carrasquillo pursued into the cafeteria of Kensington High School before being scared off.
"You told me you were sorry, and I believed you," Djerassi told Carrasquillo. "Now I don't know. But it doesn't matter."
Carrasquillo's case gained national notoriety on June 2, 2009, when a vigilante crowd in Kensington cornered him on the street and beat him after police released his name and photo as a "person of interest" in the rape. The crowd held Carrasquillo until police arrived, and he spent several days recovering in the hospital.
Carrasquillo appeared to try several times to bait Djerassi into making some injudicious action or statement.
"Why not give me life?" Carrasquillo called to the judge, interrupting defense attorney Constance Clarke, who had just asked the judge to impose a 20- to 40-year prison term. "I'm innocent, go ahead, give me life. What's the matter?"
Djerassi, however, said he did not believe Carrasquillo had lost contact with reality. The judge then calmly explained why he would not impose a life sentence - or the 66 to 132 years requested by Assistant District Attorney Catharine Thurston.
Djerassi said he mitigated his sentence because of the defense team's evidence about Carrasquillo's horrendous childhood: born addicted to heroin, abandoned by his father, beaten and abused by his mother and aunt, and rented to strangers for sex.
The judge also acknowledged that Carrasquillo had twice been severely beaten in altercations with staff at the city's Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. So, Djerassi said, he would impose no sentence on Carrasquillo's guilty plea to swearing at and spitting in the face of a correctional officer.
And Djerassi granted a defense request to have Carrasquillo transported immediately - by himself - in a sheriff's van to the state prison at Graterford rather than stay in the city prisons.
Nevertheless, Djerassi added, "on a single morning, high on PCP, you caused unspeakable pain and suffering to an 11-year-old girl."
Although the child was not in court for the sentencing, she made a victim-impact statement on a three-minute video. Reading from a paper in a halting monotone, the girl told of the surgery and 30-day hospitalization required to repair the physical injuries she sustained in multiple sexual assaults.
She said that she was still afraid of leaving the house and that her grades had plummeted.
"I'm a survivor, not a victim, but it might take a while to get over," she said, adding: "You're a sick monster, and I'm glad you're off the street."
Carrasquillo, handcuffed and seated about one foot from his victim's image on a projection screen, showed no visible emotion. He had his face to the screen, head resting on his hands, viewing the video like a disinterested spectator.
Djerassi also heard from the girl's elementary school principal, who described the changes in her former student, and emotional, angry statements from the girl's parents and grandmother.
"What you did to my baby wasn't right," said the girl's father, barely able to contain his anger, body tense as if he were about to leap at Carrasquillo. "I cry every single night because I didn't get to you first. God have mercy on you. I won't."
The girl's mother had barely been sworn in when she spat out the words: "I hate you! You hurt my family, you hurt my daughter, and I hope you die in prison.
"And by the way," the mother added, "I'm not all black!"
The mother was referring to Carrasquillo's statement to police that he was motivated to attack the child after a girl he liked began dating a black man, "and by a rage against black people generally."
Djerassi also referred to Carrasquillo's race-based motivation: "Violence based on racism rips apart a community. . . . You had the community about to lynch you. That's what happens."
As with the video, Carrasquillo looked directly at the girl's parents as they testified, his expression blank as if they were hurling imprecations at someone else.
But the words apparently hit home. It was after the victim-impact testimony, immediately before sentencing, that Carrasquillo said he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea.
"You know, I didn't want to take a plea," he told Djerassi. "I wanted to save this girl the pain and suffering, you know? But when I sat and heard how everybody was talking about and badgering me, it was obvious I'd never get a fair trial. Nobody would believe me."
The girl's family did not comment further after the sentencing.
"This turned into a circus," the father said as he left, shaking his head.
Prosecutor Thurston discounted Carrasquillo's attempt to recant his guilty plea: "This was just another example of the manipulation he engages in."
Contact staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or firstname.lastname@example.org.