Clinton man gets life sentence in girl’s rape

A state district judge sentenced a Clinton man to life in prison Thursday after his conviction July 17 for aggravated rape of a girl under the age of 13.

William “Billy” Staton’s sentencing was delayed after 20th Judicial District Judge William G. Carmichael held two hearings on whether some jurors’ guilty votes were influenced by Staton’s decision not to testify on his own behalf.

Carmichael upheld the verdict in December.

Staton, 41, was accused of raping the girl in the summer of 2007 in East Feliciana Parish, but the trial was moved to West Feliciana Parish, in part, because Staton was a former police officer, firefighter and school bus driver in the Clinton area.

Carmichael granted defense attorney Benn Hamilton’s motion Thursday to declare Staton indigent for the purpose of appealing his conviction.

Staton’s wife, Michelle, 40, pleaded guilty in August to a felony count of accessory after the fact to second-degree cruelty to a juvenile in the case. Carmichael deferred her sentence for three years, fined her $250 and placed on probation for three years.