Jury selection set for Omar Best, accused in rape of Rockview worker

lfalce@centredaily.comMarch 21, 2014 

Omar Best

PHOTO PROVIDED

A jury will be selected April 7 for the Omar Best prison-rape trial.

The Rockview prison inmate is charged with rape by forcible compulsion, rape of an unconscious victim, sexual assault and two counts of aggravated assault in the July 25 attack of a female clerk-typist while in the prison.

Best, 36, allegedly cornered the woman in an office, choking her unconscious and raping her. According to reports, he was alone with the victim for 27 minutes before leaving the area. Prison employees later discovered the woman. The apparent safety failures in the case contributed to the removal of then- superintendent Marirosa Lamas in December.

According to court officials, Best had a pretrial conference Thursday. No court date has been established, but the trial is anticipated to take two days.

Best has a criminal record that stretches back 20 years, to charges of assault, burglary and robbery. The case that sent him to Rockview was a 2013 conviction for myriad charges stemming from a 1999 incident, including rape, sexual assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

In the sentencing notes on the court documents, after he pleaded guilty and received a sentence of 71/2 to 15 years in prison, is this statement: “The defendant is not a sexually violent predator.”

Best had prior arrests for attempted rape and attempted sexual assault, and he pleaded guilty to indecent assault in 1997, when he received a 23-month sentence.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller had said in January that she was considering Best’s prior history in connection with the state’s three-strikes law, which could increase the severity of any sentence if he is convicted of the Rockview attack.

She said Friday, however, that she could not make any public statements about the situation at this time.

Best is housed in the Centre County Correctional Facility.

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