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Sat, Feb. 22

Man admits to crime 13 years later

PRESCOTT – Thirteen years after he raped two young women at gunpoint at the Granite Dells, Edward Gum admitted to committing the crime and now faces 56 years in prison.

During Monday's hearing, which Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Janis Sterling scheduled previously for an oral argument, Gum opted to take a plea instead.

Gum pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault with two prior convictions. Both offenses are Class 2 felonies and they carry prison terms between 14 and 28 years.

However, as a part of his plea offer, Gum admitted that aggravating circumstances existed in this case including his two prior felony convictions, that he used a deadly weapon to threaten the victims and that he sexually assaulted them in a heinous manner.

As a result, during the sentencing, which Sterling set tentatively at 9 a.m. on Thursday, the state will ask the judge to impose the maximum sentence possible and that the defendant serves both counts consecutively, Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Steve Young said after the hearing.

A grand jury indicted Gum on eight counts including two counts of sexual assault, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery and two counts of aggravated assault.

On Sept. 14, 1991, two young girls – one was 17 at the time – went to the Granite Dells to take some pictures, Young said.

Gum sneaked up behind the girls, and at gunpoint he ordered them to perform sexual acts, Young said. After the incident, he stole one victim's camera. While he was serving a prison sentence for a June 1992 incident, officials obtained his blood sample.

In February 2004, local authorities received notification that Gum's DNA matched the sperm sample authorities removed from one of the victims.

During the hearing, Gum admitted that he ambushed the victims and that he forced them to have sex with him at gunpoint. To supplement factual basis for the plea, Young said that the act was especially heinous. He said he forced both victims to perform oral sex on him and each other. Then he sexually assaulted one girl with a beer bottle he found nearby while he raped the other one.

Gum, who is currently serving a sentence at the Arizona Department of Corrections, previously received a conviction in Pima County on a kidnapping charge and in Yavapai County on an aggravated assault charge. In both cases, he said he pleaded guilty.

After the judge accepted the plea, Young said dismissing other counts did not hurt the state's case because the sentences on the other charges, if they led to a conviction, would run concurrently anyway.

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