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A Bardstown man has pleaded guilty to a rape and burglary that occurred over a decade ago at a nursing home in Nelson County.
A week before his case was scheduled to go to trial, Michael J. Marino accepted a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to first-degree rape and first-degree burglary.
Marino was sentenced to 15 years in prison, according Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Terry Geoghegan. Marino will be eligible for parole after serving 85 percent of his sentence. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.
“The commonwealth is satisfied with the outcome of the case,” Geoghegan said, noting that his assistant prosecutors, Chip McKay and Joe Ballard, were prepared to take the case to trial before Marino accepted the plea agreement.
What sealed the case, Geoghegan said, is the DNA evidence found at the scene matched Marino.
Marino entered the Federal Hill Nursing Home — now the Life Care Center of Bardstown — on July 31, 2000, and sexually assaulted a 78-year-old female resident.
The woman passed away a few months after the incident.
A warrant for Marino’s arrest, issued Jan. 25, 2012, said the woman was bed-ridden at the time of the attack.
At the time of the attack, another resident was in the room, but unresponsive. The Kentucky Standard reported in 2000 that the perpetrator stuffed bedding into the victim’s mouth, but she was able to press a call button during the attack. By the time a nurse arrived, the attacker had fled.
DNA evidence was left behind at the scene, but at the time, former Bardstown Police Detective Barbara Roby and former Capt. Jerry Nevitt weren’t able to develop a case.
Police were later able to identify Marino as the perpetrator when he was named a suspect in an unrelated burglary. At the time, police said Marino bore a close resemblance to the woman’s description of her attacker.
Throughout the case, Marino tried several times to suppress the evidence, arguing that the chain of custody was incomplete. However, Nelson County Circuit Court Judge John David Seay denied the motions, stating the evidence was admissible in court.
The case took more than a decade because the crime occurred at night, very few clues were left behind and the witnesses were elderly and were unable to make a positive identification of the perpetrator, Geoghegan said.
A sentencing for Marino is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, June 19.