A former Virginia Tech student on trial for raping a classmate listened as a jury heard the prosecution’s evidence — then pleaded guilty last week in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Yeabsira F. Lemma, 20, pleaded guilty to rape and animate object sexual penetration soon after the prosecution rested at his Monday jury trial. Judge Robert Turk ordered a pre-sentencing report and scheduled a May 7 hearing to decide Lemma’s punishment.
The mid-trial guilty pleas pre-empted a jury verdict, and also — assuming there would have been a guilty verdict — prevented a jury’s sentencing recommendation.
Lemma was accused of attacking another Tech student after a Jan. 21, 2018, party. According to prosecutors, Lemma told the victim he would take her from the party to his apartment where a mutual friend was waiting for her.
The woman had consumed several mixed drinks and was intoxicated.
She had episodes of vomiting throughout the night, prosecutors said. She remembered being on Lemma’s bed as he pulled her pants off and had sex with her.
The Roanoke Times is not identifying the woman in this case.
Lemma told investigators that he had sex with the woman and DNA testing confirmed it, prosecutors said.
Lemma faces another animate object sexual penetration charge involving a different victim. In his second case, Lemma also was accused of rape, but the charge was dropped for lack of evidence.
As an Ethiopean national, Lemma could face deportation as well as prison, defense attorney Brad McConnell of Blacksburg said after the trial.