'Third strike' nets man life sentence in Garfield County

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POMEROY — An Asotin man was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without possibility of parole in Superior Court in Garfield County, after being convicted by a jury in May of three counts of second degree rape.

The sentence of John Henry Markwell, 44, was imposed by Judge William Acey in accordance with Washington’s mandatory “three strikes” law.

According to Garfield County Prosecutor Matt Newberg, Markwell’s sentence was the first time the state’s three strikes provision has been used in Garfield County.

Markwell was arrested in Pomeroy in early 2011 on multiple felony charges, including burglary and assault. He was being held in the Garfield County Jail awaiting trial when the rapes occurred in the jail. The rape charges were filed in July 2011. For his trial in May, Markwell retained Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne.

In the 1990s, Markwell served sentences for a kidnapping conviction in Clark County and later for a separate assault conviction in Pierce County. Both of those convictions counted as “strike” offenses when Markwell was sentenced this week.

Sentencing of Markwell was delayed after his May conviction to allow the state Department of Corrections to conduct a pre-sentence investigation.

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