State Appeals Court Upholds Fort Smith Rapist’s 140-Year Sentence

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) – The Arkansas Court of Appeals this week upheld the 140-year prison sentence for a Fort Smith man convicted of raping a pre-teen boy several times.

A Sebastian County jury in 2013 found Robert Lee Sandrelli guilty of four counts of rape, after which Sandrelli was sentenced to four 35-year prison sentences to run back-to-back. Sandrelli appealed the conviction to the state, claiming there was insufficient evidence in the case because the victim’s testimony was the only evidence against him, according to a slip opinion released by the state Court of Appeals.

The Appeals Court released an opinion Wednesday saying it was affirming the conviction, citing precedent that “there is no requirement that a rape victim’s testimony be corroborated in order to be sufficient.”

A 10-year-old boy in 2012 told investigators Sandrelli was a heavy drinker and physically and sexually abused him several times, even forcing the child to perform a sex act on him. A subsequent investigation revealed no material or DNA evidence of sexual abuse. However, the victim’s testimony in the resulting trial led to the suspect’s conviction. Sandrelli did not testify in that trial, court records state.

The Appeals Court cited several previous cases as precedent that a conviction of rape does not require substantial evidence other than the victim’s testimony.

“The rape victim’s testimony need not be corroborated, and the scientific evidence is not required,” the opinion states.

Sandrelli will be eligible for parole on March 31,2111, according to the Arkansas Department of Correction.

3 comments

  • Victim

    After all these years I finally get the justice I deserved many years ago. I hope you feel the pain and suffering I felt. I feel sorry for the little boy that had to deal with this monster I hope they take real good care of you in there.

  • victim?

    It is a sorry state of affairs, and a black eye for the “Arkansas Court of Appeals” when the word of one person can condemn another to life in prison with no other proof. Imagine yourself in the position of the accused, for any crime. No sympathy for anyone who would harm a child, punishment should be severe, but more than just an accusation should be required. These “judges” are wrong, this decision needs to be appealed higher. A precedent doesn’t mean it’s right, it only means someone else already got away with it. There should be more evidence than one persons testimony. There must be more to this story than what is printed here, or both the judge and jury let emotion override justice, common sense, and fairness.

  • mr g

    another example of Arkansas antiquated legal system in action…….child rapists should be executed in my opinion….. that being said there needs to be more evidence in a life conviction…..period….

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