General Crime

* Paul Vernon Sullenger sentenced to life in prison after he sexually assaulted an 81-year-old woman in Rohnert Park

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A Rohnert Park man was sentenced to life in prison this week, three years after he sexually assaulted an 81-year-old woman in her home. Paul Vernon Sullenger, 47, was sentenced Wednesday to 126 years to life in prison for the Nov. 2, 2008, assault in the woman’s Rohnert Park home. He was convicted in August of first-degree burglary, making criminal threats, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery, assault during the commission of the burglary and attempted burglary.

The woman was home alone when she heard a noise in her bedroom. When she went to investigate, Sullenger grabbed her and threw her on the bed, put a pillow over her face and sexually assaulted her, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said. As he left through the bedroom window, he threatened to kill the woman if she called police, according to Ravitch. In June 2009, Sullenger again tried to enter the woman’s home through the bedroom window, but the woman yelled at him and he fled, Ravitch said.

That time, Ravitch said, Sullenger left a fingerprint on a patio chair he removed before he tried to come through the window. DNA evidence from the sexual assault and the sample taken from the patio chair matched Sullenger’s DNA.Sullenger had also been convicted of a 1994 sexual assault in Texas, according to the district attorney’s office. He was arrested for the Rohnert Park crime on Sept. 17, 2009.Sullenger has two prior strikes for the first-degree burglary and sexual assault in Texas, Ravitch said.

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