BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WALA) - Ten years after he was indicted for child rape and fled before trial, a Lillian man now faces life in prison.
A Baldwin County jury deliberated about two hours late Friday before convicting Cheeley Andrew Hunter, 54, of one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape, as well as furnishing a controlled substance to a minor.
Hunter, who was apprehended in Ohio earlier this year by the U.S. Marshalls, has three prior felony convictions and will be sentenced under the Habitual Offender Act, said Assistant District Attorney Chalea Tisdale, who prosecuted the case. Sentencing is set for 9 a.m. September 26, with Hunter facing a sentence of life in prison to life without parole for the first-degree rape and 20 years to life for the second-degree rapes.
Tisdale said that Hunter was dating the victim’s mother when he gave the victim alcohol and marijuana and raped her on three separate occasions. “I am so grateful that we were able to finally bring this man to justice,” Tisdale said. “It is a tragedy that this man evaded capture for so long and made the victim wait a decade to confront her attacker, but, thanks to the citizens of this county who served on the jury, he will finally be made to pay for his crimes.”
“This case presented unbelievable challenges – a child rape victim, a parental-figure perpetrator, and a 10-year delay,” said Baldwin County District Attorney Hallie Dixon. “Then, just last year, we lost the case agent, Scott Ward, when he was murdered in the line of duty. Still, giving up was never an option,” Dixon said.
Dixon thanked the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshall’s for their persistence in locating and bringing Hunter back to stand trial.
“Let this be a lesson to those who think they can avoid justice by fleeing: You will eventually be found and prosecuted,” Dixon said. “You will not be allowed to victimize kids in this county and get away with it.”
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