(CNN) — Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma City police officer convicted on rape and other charges after he preyed on African-American women over a six-month period, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.
The officer was convicted on 18 of 36 counts, including four counts of first-degree rape and four counts of forced oral sodomy, on his 29th birthday last month. He rocked back and forth in his chair, sobbing, as the judge read the verdict, which arrived after 40 hours of jury deliberation.
Prosecutors said Holtzclaw selected victims in one of Oklahoma City’s poorest neighborhoods based on their criminal histories, assuming their drug or prostitution records would undermine any claims they might make against him.
Then, he would subject them to assaults that escalated from groping to oral sodomy and rape, according to the testimony of 13 victims. Holtzclaw, whose father is a police lieutenant on another force, waived his right to testify.
Because the victims are black, race has been regularly invoked in the case. His trial began in November and was criticized by activists after an all-white jury was chosen. Protesters repeatedly gathered outside.
Holtzclaw, whose father is white and mother is Japanese, is identified as “Asian or Pacific Islander” by court records.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, has criticized the media, asking, “Where is the national outcry for their justice?” Meanwhile, Oklahoma City NAACP President Garland Pruitt has said he will be watching the sentencing to ensure justice is served because “the system has a reputation of not being fair.”
The jury has recommended Holtzclaw serve 263 years in prison for his crimes. He was under suicide watch in the Oklahoma City jail following the verdict.
“We’re going to ask the judge to make sure that this defendant never sees the light of day,” District Attorney David Prater said. “And we’re going to ask him to run consecutive, every count.”
On Wednesday, Holtzclaw’s lawyers asked for a new trial, alleging prosecutors did not disclose newly discovered evidence — including DNA evidence and the accounts of accusers who falsely claimed to be victims — to the defense, according to CNN affiliate KFOR. Court documents posted on the station’s website say a detective referenced the evidence in a Facebook post.
At least four of the victims were expected to testify ahead of Holtzclaw’s sentencing.
Shandegreon “Sade” Hill said that Holtzclaw raped her while she was handcuffed to a hospital bed, and one woman, 17 at the time, said she was raped on her mother’s front porch. Another victim said after the verdict last month that she feared for her life when Holtzclaw pulled her over in 2014 and forced her to perform oral sex.
“I kept begging, ‘Sir, don’t make me do this, don’t make me do this, sir. Please. You’re going to shoot me,’ ” Jannie Ligons, a grandmother, told reporters. “All I could see was my life flashing before my eyes and the holster on his right side.”
She said she had to enter therapy and later “had a stroke behind this.”
Ligons went to police and media outlets with the first complaint against Holtzclaw, she said. Investigators later found another dozen victims. She now has a civil lawsuit pending against the former officer and the city, filed on behalf of several victims. Hill has filed a state civil lawsuit against Holtzclaw and Oklahoma City.
Holtzclaw was a former linebacker on the Eastern Michigan University football team and graduated with a degree in criminal justice.
Prosecutors say his ruthless scheme began during a June 2014 traffic stop. He was fired from the force in January 2015 after an internal investigation.
“Your offenses committed against women in our community constitute the greatest abuse of police authority I have witnessed in my 37 years as a member of this agency,” Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty wrote in the termination letter, according to CNN affiliate KFOR.