LIMA — The judge and the prosecutor agreed: The repeated sexual assaults by a Columbus Grove man on a young boy are among the most heinous crimes they have witnessed throughout the course of their professional careers.
And for those attacks, Richard Byrd will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Byrd, 62, described in some court documents as “homeless,” was sentenced Wednesday by Allen County Common Pleas Judge David Cheney to 56 years to life behind bars for repeatedly raping the boy over the span of some seven years, beginning when the victim was just 7 years of age. The incidents took place at Lake Cody, just north of Lima, according to law enforcement officials.
Byrd pleaded guilty in November to 10 counts of rape, felonies of the first degree; two counts of sexual battery, third-degree felonies; and one count of gross sexual imposition, also a felony of the third degree. In exchange for that plea, prosecutors dismissed specifications included on four of the rape counts that called for mandatory sentences of life in prison. In the final analysis, it mattered little.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Miller, in recommending the maximum sentence, told Cheney that Byrd “should never, ever be released into a civilized community … ever. I have been doing this job for a decade, and this is the most serious case of predatory behavior I have seen,” Miller said. “If anyone deserves to spend the rest of their life in prison, this person is that. He is a true predator.”
Miller said the state “begs the court to render a sentence that ensures this individual is never, ever a free man again.”
Prosecutors throughout the case maintained that Byrd assaulted the young boy over a span of several years. According to a report written by Detective Callie Basinger of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, the boy was sexually assaulted numerous times while he was between the ages of 7 and 14.
When the boy reached the age of 14, Basinger’s report states, he threatened his attacker and the assaults subsequently stopped. During an interview with authorities in June of this year, Byrd reportedly admitted performing various sex acts with and upon the alleged victim.
At the recommendation of his attorney, Zach Maisch, Byrd did not offer any comments during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing. He spoke softly only when questioned by Cheney, replying “Yes, sir” or “No, sir” to the judge’s queries.
Members of the victim’s family were also present in the courtroom but elected not to make any statements to the court.
Cheney sentenced Byrd to 50 years to life on each of the 10 rape charges; 36 months on each of two sexual battery counts and 36 months on the gross sexual imposition charge. Through a combination of consecutive and concurrent sentences, the total prison term wound up at 56 years to life.
“I’ve had some serious cases before me during my time on the bench, but this one ranks right up at the top,” Cheney said before ordering Byrd remanded to prison.