Columbia man gets 7 years in park rape

The victim was a 19-year-old homeless woman who met the man at a soup kitchen.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:16 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

A Columbia man received the maximum sentence of seven years in prison Monday for sexual assault.

Last July, a 19-year-old homeless woman reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted in Lions-Stephens Park by a man she had met at a soup kitchen.

Columbia police later arrested Daniel William Coffman, 46. The victim took the stand at Coffman’s trial in March to testify she was sleeping in the park at 104 N. William St. when Coffman approached her and began rubbing her back.

As previously reported by the Missourian, the woman described how Coffman lay down next to her on the floor of the pavilion and then raped her. The woman said that she struggled with Coffman but that he did not stop until he heard people coming. He then moved away from the victim and fell asleep nearby, she said.

“Some guys found her under the pavilion, crying and trying to slit her wrists,” Prosecutor Richard Hicks said after Monday’s hearing.

Coffman was found guilty by a Boone County jury in March after a one-day trial. The jury deliberated for about 15 minutes.

At Monday’s hearing, Coffman’s attorney, Public Defender Michael Byrne, asked Boone County Circuit Judge Jodie Asel to follow the recommendation of a sentencing assessment report, which would have given Coffman a three-year “community-structured sentence.” Defendants who receive such sentences are kept in halfway houses rather than prison and are expected to perform some type of community or public service.

But Hicks argued that Coffman should receive the maximum sentence of seven years because of the severity of the crime.

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