HOPEWELL MAN FOUND GUILTY ON MULTIPLE SEX CRIMES

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ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2021, 29 YEAR OLD HOWARD STRAIT OF HOPEWELL WAS FOUND GUILTY OF MULTIPLE CRIMINAL OFFENSES, INCLUDING RAPE BY FORCIBLE COMPULSION, RAPE OF A CHILD, STATUTORY SEXUAL ASSAULT, INVOLUNTARY DEVIATE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE, AND OTHER RELATED OFFENSES. THE JURY TRIAL BEGAN MONDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2021. THE JURY RETURNED A VERDICT LATE TUESDAY EVENING, DECEMBER 14, 2021

THE DEFENDANT WAS CHARGED WITH MULTIPLE SEXUAL OFFENSES IN 2019, FOLLOWING ALLEGATIONS MADE BY SEVERAL DIFFERENT VICTIMS, ALL UNDER THE AGE OF 14 AT THE TIME THE OFFENSES OCCURRED. A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION WAS CONDUCTED BY THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, BEDFORD CRIME UNIT, AND CHARGES WERE FILED IN APRIL OF 2019. THROUGHOUT THE INVESTIGATION IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT THE OFFENSES OCCURRED IN BEDFORD, HUNTINGDON, AND FULTON COUNTIES BETWEEN THE DATES OF JANUARY 2016 AND JUNE OF 2018. DISTRICT ATTORNEY LESLEY CHILDERS-POTTS CONSULTED WITH HUNTINGDON COUNTY DA DAVID SMITH AND FULTON COUNTY DA TRAVIS KENDALL, AND THE THREE AGREED TO HAVE ALL THE CHARGES IN ONE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT AND FOR THE OFFENSES TO BE PROSECUTED IN BEDFORD COUNTY BY CHILDERS-POTTS AND HER STAFF.

THE DEFENDANT WAS REPRESENTED BY ATTORNEY ANDREW STIFFLER OF PITTSBURGH DURING TRIAL PREPARATION AND DURING THE TWO DAY TRIAL. THE COMMONWEALTH PRESENTED TESTIMONY FROM THREE JUVENILE VICTIMS, AS WELL AS FROM THE ARRESTING OFFICER, TROOPER PATRICK KELLY. THE DEFENSE PRESENTED TESTIMONY FROM SEVERAL WITNESSES, INCLUDING A CHARACTER WITNESS AND THE DEFENDANT ALSO TOOK THE STAND IN HIS OWN DEFENSE. AT THE CONCLUSION OF TESTIMONY, CLOSING ARGUMENTS AND JURY INSTRUCTIONS, THE BEDFORD COUNTY JURY BEGAN DELIBERATIONS AT APPROXIMATELY 7PM. THE JURY RETURNED THEIR VERDICT AT APPROXIMATELY 10PM. FOLLOWING THE READING OF THE VERDICT, JUDGE TRAVIS LIVENGOOD REVOKED THE DEFENDANT’S BAIL, AND STRAIT WAS TRANSPORTED TO THE BEDFORD COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY BY THE BEDFORD COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

“” THE OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY IS EXTREMELY PLEASED WITH THE OUTCOME OF THE PROCEEDINGS. MY OFFICE HAS WORKED DILIGENTLY FOR SEVERAL MONTHS TO ENSURE THAT JUSTICE WOULD BE DONE. I AM PROUD OF THE WORK THAT MY OFFICE AND THE STATE POLICE DID ON THIS CASE. IT WAS CLEAR IN THE VERDICT THAT THE JURY TOOK THEIR TIME AND CAREFULLY CONSIDERED ALL THE EVIDENCE AND TESTIMONY PRESENTED TO THEM DURING A LONG TWO DAYS OF TRIAL. THE DEFENDANT WAS FOUND GUILTY OF MOST OF THE CRIMINAL OFFENSES THAT WERE PRESENTED TO THE JURY FOR VERDICT, HOWEVER HE WAS FOUND NOT GUILTY OF A HANDFUL OF CHARGES AS WELL. THE JURY TOOK THEIR DUTY SERIOUSLY, AND RENDERED A FAIR AND JUST VERDICT BASED UPON THE EVIDENCE AND TESTIMONY. I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE ASSISTANCE OF MY FIST ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY JONATHAN THOMAS, WHO COMPLETED RESEARCH AND ASSISTED IN THE PREPARATION OF QUESTIONING OF WITNESSES AND PREPARATION OF MY CLOSING ARGUMENT. MOST OF ALL I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE BRAVERY OF THE VICTIMS THAT TESTIFIED AT TRIAL. WITHOUT THEIR DETERMINATION, WE COULD HAVE NEVER SECURED THIS POSITIVE OUTCOME. THEY DESERVE JUSTICE, AND BECAUSE OF THEIR TESTIMONY, A SEXUAL PREDATOR IS NOW OFF THE STREETS ” SAID DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHILDERS-POTTS.

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