St. Joseph man sentenced in 396 years for raping children

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) -- A 41-year-old man who admitted sexually molesting three young children received sentences Tuesday totaling 396 years in prison.

Donald R. Axtell, of St. Joseph, pleaded guilty last month on the day his trial was to start to four felony counts of rape and sodomy. The charges involved female victims as young as 3 years old.

Buchanan County Circuit Judge Daniel Kellogg sentenced Axtell on Tuesday to two consecutive 99-year terms, plus 198 years to be served concurrently.

"Sir, I don't want you to get out of prison," the judge said. "I don't want you to take part of ... any other child's life."

Prosecutors alleged that between 1988 and 2000 on multiple occasions, Axtell raped and molested at least two juveniles who at the time were under the age of 14.

In extremely emotional and graphic testimony, three young women detailed how Axtell repeatedly performed sexual acts on the girls, all of whom were around the ages of 3 to 5 when the abuse began.

A 23-year-old woman told the court how at the age of 4, Axtell raped her in a bathroom by telling her they were playing a "secret game."

"I tried not to focus on it -- I kept looking under the tub to see some toys I had been missing," the woman said, adding that Axtell covered her mouth when she began to struggle. "(I felt) there was nobody there to save me ... there was no way to say anything. I felt alone."

Another woman, now 20, said she felt guilty because no one believed her that she had been molested and raped by Axtell throughout her life. She testified that in grade school she informed a school counselor of the abuse, but that no action was taken.

Axtell was arrested and charged in August and initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Information from: St. Joseph News-Press,

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