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Man Given 1-year Term For Child Rape Dies In Jail

MCALESTER, Okla. (AP) - A man whose one-year sentence for a child rape conviction drew national outrage has died in jail while awaiting trial in a separate case involving a minor, a law enforcement official said Monday.

David Earls, 66, died Saturday afternoon at McAlester Regional Health Center where he was taken after Pittsburg County Jail personnel noticed he was ill, Undersheriff Richard Bedford said Monday night.

"He'd been ill when he first came to the facility in 2008. He had health-related issues," Bedford said.

Earls was sentenced to 20 years in prison with the last 19 years suspended as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors in the 2008 child rape case.

He was months away from being released in that case in 2009 when he was indicted in a separate case on three counts of committing lewd and indecent acts with a child under 16. A trial date had been pending the outcome of a decision an appeal filed by Earls' attorney, Al Hoch, who didn't immediately return a call Monday seeking comment.

Earls, who was still being held on $400,000 bond in the latest case, had been in the Pittsburg County Jail since his original booking on Sept. 27, 2008, Bedford said. He had been kept in a cell by himself because of the nature of the charges against him, Sheriff Joel Kerns told the McAlester News Capital. It also made it easier for employees to administer medically prescribed breathing treatments to Earls.

According to court documents, Earls was accused in the more recent indictment of fondling one of the children's breasts and of kissing the child by placing his tongue on the child's stomach.