TWIN FALLS - A man accused of using Craigslist classified ads to ask men to rape a woman in her home pleaded guilty Thursday in Twin Falls County 5th District Court to a charge of solicitation of rape.
Justin Matthew Crawford, 33, also was originally charged with solicitation of burglary, but prosecutors agreed to drop that count Thursday. The plea deal is an open recommendation, meaning Crawford could face the maximum of 15 years in prison and a $25,000 fine for the crime. The minimum sentence in Idaho is one year.
Crawford admitted in court Thursday to posting an ad on Craigslist claiming to be the woman and asking to be raped. He also admitted to exchanging pictures and messages with men who answered the ad.
Crawford's attorney, Lynn Dunlap, rejected a previous plea deal from the state that said Crawford would spend 10 to 15 years in prison.
A trial had been scheduled to begin next week. Dunlap had planned to call several expert witnesses in order to use a defense of diminished capacity. Diminished capacity can be caused by disease, trauma or intoxication but is not insanity.
Dunlap said he is in the process of drafting a request to move Crawford's sentencing hearing from district court to mental health court or veterans court.
Dunlap said Crawford, an Idaho National Guard member, has been placed on incapacitation pay, meaning he's not capable of completing his Guard work because of military service. Crawford is in counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. As soon as he's sentenced, he'll be immediately discharged and all payments will stop.
Dunlap said his client was beginning the long process of getting disability pay from the Army and wants the findings from the medical review board to be available for the sentencing.
A sentencing hearing might not be scheduled until 2014.
Twin Falls County Deputy Prosecutor Julie Sturgill expressed concern about that length of time. She asked for status hearings to be set in order to have the sentencing as quickly as possible.
Crawford has been completely compliant with the court and caused no problems since the incident nearly a year ago, Dunlap said.
According to a police report, two men broke into the home of the woman whom Crawford pretended to be in the Craigslist ad. The woman shot at one intruder but missed. In a separate incident, she held another man at gunpoint.
In an interview with police, one of the men said he was responding to an ad on Craigslist's "casual encounters" section. The man said the ad instructed him to force his way into the home and rape the woman no matter how much she resisted.
Crawford and the woman were acquainted before the incident.