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Man admits to 2 rapes when he was 15 years old; murder trial remains set for fall
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Man admits to 2 rapes when he was 15 years old; murder trial remains set for fall

From the ICYMI: Here are the most-read stories from the past week series

CROWN POINT — An 18-year-old man pleaded guilty Monday to two rapes in Hammond in 2017, but he's still scheduled to face a jury this fall on murder charges.

Omarion Wilbourn, of Hammond, entered his pleas the same day he was scheduled to go to trial in one of the rape cases.

Instead, he agreed to a 40-year sentence in exchange for his guilty pleas to two counts of rape, each a level 1 felony.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell vacated Wilbourn's trial this week and set his sentencing in the rape cases for July 2. He remains scheduled to stand trial on murder and robbery charges starting Sept. 20.

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Wilbourn, who was just 15 years old when the rapes occurred, will be required to register as a sex offender and must serve at least 75% of his sentence, court records state. 

He was represented by defense attorney John Maksimovich.

Wilbourn's pleas mark the end of a nearly four-year process, which began when Hammond officials announced his arrest, but did not name him, during a news conference in August 2017.

Wilbourn's attorney in Lake Juvenile Court, Michael A. Campbell, later won a ruling suppressing some statements Wilbourn made to police during an interview Aug. 22, 2017.

However, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Lake Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak's decision to grant prosecutors' request to waive Wilbourn to adult court.

At the news conference, Hammond police said DNA evidence had linked Wilbourn to the rapes. 

Police declined to comment on whether there was DNA evidence in the homicide of Lucia Gonzalez, a 25-year-old mother who was found stabbed and beaten to death Aug. 21, 2017, in her home in the 7500 block of Alexander Avenue.

Lake County Supervisory Deputy Prosecutor Michelle Jatkiewicz said at a previous hearing that Wilbourn had been offered a plea agreement in all three cases with a total sentence of 60 years. The state took that plea offer off the table in April.

If Wilbourn is convicted of murder in Gonzalez's homicide, he could face at least another 45 years in prison.

In the plea agreement filed Monday, Wilbourn admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl July 16, 2017, after grabbing her from behind, threatening her with a hammer and forcing her into an alley in the 6700 block of Nebraska Street.

He also admitted he raped a 25-year-old woman Aug. 8, 2017, while threatening her with a hammer in an alley in the 7400 block of Arkansas Street.

DNA analysis in both cases matched Wilbourn, the plea states.

Police recovered the hammer from the home of Wilbourn's girlfriend. Officers found a hat and pair of shoes, which were stolen from one of the rape victims, at Wilbourn's home, records state.

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