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Conviction upheld in sex attack, robbery ; Afrika's 75-year term 'not unduly harsh'

The sex attack and robbery conviction of a man considered one of the region's most dangerous predators was upheld unanimously Thursday by a state appellate court.

The five-judge Appellate Division of State Supreme Court upheld the Sept. 20, 2007, conviction of Nache Afrika, who sexually assaulted a female clerk and made off with $9,000 from the Marshall's store on Union Road in Cheektowaga late on Oct. 27, 1998. It was Afrika's second jury trial in the case, which was also granted to him by the same court.

The Rochester appellate court ruled that the 75-year prison term Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio reimposed on May 2, 2008, was "not unduly harsh or severe."

Afrika, 48, also known as Harry Bacon, served as his own attorney in his first and second trials, in 2001 and 2007.

He won a second trial on procedural issues. The first jury verdict came before Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruska, who also imposed a 75-year prison term.

Attorneys for the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo who represented Afrika on his latest appeal could not be reached to comment about the prospects for a last-ditch appeal to the state's high court in Albany.

Prosecutors Thomas M. Finnerty and Kristin A. St. Mary, who obtained the 2007 conviction, said Afrika is also serving two consecutive 25-year prison terms for the June 25, 1998, rape of a male store clerk in the Rochester suburb of Henrietta and for an unrelated 1998 Rochester shooting.

Court officials Friday said the 75-year term imposed by DiTullio doesn't kick in until Afrika completes serving 50 years for the Rochester-area crimes -- also upheld on appeal in January 2005.

It is unlikely Afrika will ever be paroled from prison, court officials said. Currently, according to state prison records, Afrika will not be eligible for parole consideration until 2041 -- when he would be 79 years old.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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