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York Daily Record (PA)

September 8, 2000

Author: MIKE ARGENTO Daily Record staff -LEAD

Judge Sheryl Ann Dorney listened Thursday morning as a forensic psychiatrist described how a combination of Prozac, Xanax, Ritalin and enough alcohol to render a normal human comatose robbed William Babner of his memory the night he kidnapped a man and a woman, raped the woman, shot both of them in the head and left them for dead.

The judge listened as Babner’s victims, who were 18-year-old college students when Babner entered their lives and brutalized them, described how their lives have changed, how they live in fear every single day, how they awake from nightmares of that day, how they have required numerous surgeries to heal their physical scars, how no amount of surgery could heal their psychic scars, how they have been robbed of their trust and innocence.

“I’m 19 years old,” the woman told the judge. “I’m not supposed to go through this.”

The judge listened as the woman’s mother and father describe how their lives changed on Jan. 8, when they learned from police that their daughter had been raped and shot in the head.

The judge heard nothing from Babner. When the judge asked him whether he had anything to say before she imposed her sentence, Babner handed a note to his court-appointed lawyer, public defender Bruce Blocher, and asked Blocher to read it to the judge. The note said he wished to make a motion to fire Blocher for being an ineffective advocate.

The judge had heard enough.

She reviewed Babner’s biography, compiled by the county probation department. He was from York Haven, is 41 years old and had previous convictions for drunken driving, dealing marijuana and welfare fraud.  He’s never really worked steadily; his only employment of note was four years spent as a heavy equipment operator.  He had a history of chronic alcoholism and drug abuse. He started drinking when he was 12.  His father was a violent drunk.

The judge described Babner’s crimes on Jan. 8 as “ruthless, senseless, heartless acts of violence.” All things considered, the judge said, Babner deserved to be locked away for “a long, long, long time.”

Then the judge started sentencing him.

Ten to 20 years for the attempted murder of Daniel Zapp.

Ten to 20 for kidnapping.

Ten to 20 for robbery.

Two to five for using a firearm in the commission of a crime.

Ten to 20 for firearms violation.

Ten to 20 years for the attempted murder of Zapp’s friend.

Ten to 20 years for rape.

Ten to 20 years for kidnapping.

Ten to 20 years for each of three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Five to 10 years for aggravated assault.

Each sentence is to be served consecutively, the judge said.

Dorney paused and added up the time.

The total sentence, she said, is 117 to 235 years. Babner would be eligible for parole if he lived to be 158.

Babner – wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs and leg irons – stood stoically.

After, prosecutor Ed Paskey said, “He deserves every second of those 117 years.”

Babner had never met the victims before. He picked them up in Goldsboro the afternoon of Jan. 8, and after a terror-filled ride to Gut Road by the Susquehanna River, he repeatedly raped the woman at gunpoint while Zapp was imprisoned in the back of his pickup.

Then, Babner shot Zapp in the head and shot the woman in the face. He dragged the man to the river and kicked him into the icy waters of the Susquehanna. The woman followed, after Babner shot her again in the thigh.

The two victims miraculously survived.

On Thursday, forensic psychiatrist Robert Davis testified that he examined Babner before his trial and found that on the day of the attack, he had ingested a bizarre combination of Prozac, an anti-depressant; Xanax, a tranquilizer, and Ritalin, a mild stimulant usually prescribed to children with attention deficit disorder. Babner also told him that he was drinking heavily, as was his lifestyle.  He said Babner told him he started drinking when he was 12 and had only brief periods of sobriety during the past 28 years.

Babner said he didn’t recall the events of the day Zapp and his friend were brutalized – something the psychiatrist didn’t doubt.

The prescription drugs and the excessive amounts of alcohol, the doctor said, “were a very, very bad combination.”

The doctor said Babner, at the time, was eager to get to court “so he could prove he wasn’t this sort of bad person who could do these horrific things.”

When he got to court, the opposite was proven, mostly on the gripping testimony from the two victims.

Thursday, Zapp testified over a speaker phone from college. He goes to Carnegie University in Pittsburgh. He said Babner “made everything I have to do much harder.”

He said he can’t talk to strangers and he lives in fear. He also said, “I find it harder and harder to care about people.”

The young woman described her fears and nightmares and loss of innocence.   “I live with so much fear,” she said. “I have to live in fear the rest of my life.”

After Babner was taken away, the woman hugged members of her family. A weeping woman approached her in the hall, hugged her and sobbed, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

The sobbing woman walked away. She was Babner’s sister.

The young woman said, “I’m just glad he’s going to pay for everything he did. I’m just glad it’s over.”

Copyright (c) 2000 York Daily Record      Record Number: 2000252011