ELIZABETHTOWN - The sentencing of a former Lake Placid man convicted of raping a woman he had drugged has been put off until next month.
Daniel Stahl, 22, of Florida, appeared in Essex County Court on Thursday before Judge Richard Meyer, who adjourned sentencing until 1:30 p.m. May 17. Meyer said he needs a complete record of Stahl's criminal history before he sentences him.
Stahl was convicted in February on one count of first-degree rape, a class B felony, and one count of first-degree sexual abuse, a class D violent felony. Meyer handed down his guilty verdict on Feb. 16 following a six-day bench trial. Stahl was arrested in January 2010 after he was accused of giving a woman the prescription drug Xanax and raping her in the village of Lake Placid one year prior.
The court received a pre-sentence investigation report from the Essex County Probation Department before Thursday's hearing, but Stahl's lawyer, Brian Barrett of Lake Placid, argued that the report contained inaccuracies.
Flanked by four attorneys, Stahl wore a suit and appeared stoic throughout Thursday's hearing. Asked why he needed so many lawyers, Barrett said that "when you have an overzealous pitchfork prosecution, and the prosecutor is playing loose with the rules, you need four attorneys to protect yourself.
The prosecution, led by District Attorney Kristy Sprague, and the defense went into closed session for about 35 minutes immediately after the sentencing hearing started. When they emerged, Meyer apologized to the victim and her family, who were present for the hearing.
"I'm concerned about this going on too long," Meyer said of the sentencing. "But I'm also concerned about the defendant's criminal history not being correct. I must sentence on correct information."
"It's disappointing for the victim as she was expecting closure today," she told the Enterprise. "But I would much rather have the matter adjourned to ensure accurate information is presented to the court."
Barrett said he tried to have the pre-sentence report corrected before Thursday's hearing and that probation directed his questions to Sprague's office.
"It would have been beneficial had probation not aligned themselves with the prosecution," Barrett said. "I had offered this information up to them previously."
Meyer said the matter boiled down to a communication problem between New York and Florida. Stahl used to live in Lake Placid but now lives in Florida and has a criminal record there.
"We need a better system to get information from other states," Meyer said.
"There is no blame to place here, and the judge explained the shortcomings of the system when accessing out-of-state conviction information," Sprague said. "Probation did their job and prepared a report with the information they had available to them. The defense has the right to object to the contents of the report, which is standard in these situations, and the people will be prepared to advocate our position as well."
Sprague said Stahl raped his victim while she was physically helpless. The prosecution used expert testimony from medical personnel, DNA analysts and a toxicologist to secure the guilty verdict.
Stahl was originally indicted on charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, three counts of facilitating a sex offense with a controlled substance and first-degree criminal sexual act. That indictment was dismissed by Meyer in May 2011 because of evidentiary problems. The charges were resubmitted to another grand jury in June 2011.
"We intend to rigorously defend Mr. Stahl in the appellate process," Barrett said. "We're certainly happy that he was acquitted of five of the seven counts, and I am hopeful that the appellate division will acquit him on the remaining counts."
Stahl is currently out on bail under electronic home monitoring. Sprague said he must wear an ankle bracelet and is required to live in Essex County until sentencing.
Stahl could face up to 25 years in state prison and as much as 20 years of post-release supervision. He will also be deemed a sex offender under New York state law.