Ely found guilty, faces up to 99 years in state prison
Wrangell resident Doug Ely, far right, is consoled by his attorney Jude Pate after a jury returned guilty verdicts on three felony assault charges. Ely could face up to 99 years in state prison.
A Wrangell jury found a former resident of the Borough guilty last week of three felonies involving sexual assaults against his then 8-year-old victim in 2012.
Doug Ely, 33, was found to have committed two acts of first degree sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 16, and one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.
Because of two aggravating factors that were admitted by Ely after the jury returned its verdict he could end up spending at least the next 35 years in an Alaska State prison.
The aggravating factors alleged by prosecutor Jean Seaton and admitted to by Ely were that his victim resided with him in a household, and that he was more than 10 years older than the victim at the time of the offenses.
The three acts of sexual assault were alleged by Seaton to have occurred between June and August of last year.
The standard range for sentencing in cases of first-degree sexual assault is 25-35 years. However, because Ely admitted the two factors, First District Judge Trevor Stephens may depart from that range and could sentence Ely to as much as 99 years on each charge. Although Stephens could ultimately hand down such lengthy sentences, he urged Seaton to consider asking for some or the entire sentence to be concurrent.
The verdict came after three days of testimony – and an emotional moment at the beginning of the trial when Ely’s victim took the stand first, at the start of Seaton’s direct examination. Testimony was also heard from Wrangell Police Department Lieutenant Merlin Ehlers and Sergeant Bruce Smith.
Ely did not testify during his defense case, which was mounted vigorously by Sitka public defender Jude Pate.
Alaska Island Community Services physician Greg Salard was a juror in the case. When asked afterward what helped sway him and the 11 other jury members in the case his answer was short and concise.
“The evidence was overwhelming,” Salard said.
Sentencing for Ely will be set later this week by Judge Stephens and is expected to happen in either late August or early September.