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Rape victim tells court she's a survivor at sentencing of one of her attackers

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A Hennepin County judge on Thursday sentenced a Minneapolis man to life in prison without the possibility of parole for kidnapping a woman from an Uptown alley and raping her.

After a two-week trial and just three hours of deliberations, a jury last week convicted Deonte Darnell Lawson, 24, of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

At the hearing, a victim advocate from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office read a statement from the woman.

It read in part, "I am smarter, braver and stronger than Mr. Lawson ever counted on. I am a survivor. And I know I am not his first victim, but I am going to make damn sure I am his last. Mr. Lawson is nothing more than a monster. I looked him in the eyes during my testimony and I saw the cold, evil, lifelessness I remember seeing in October 2017."

According to the criminal complaint, Lawson and two others abducted the victim in October 2017 as she was retrieving something from the trunk of her vehicle that was parked behind her apartment building.

The three forced her into the back seat of her vehicle, drove to a secluded area and raped her before heading to rural Washington County.

Fearing for her life, the woman escaped barefoot after convincing her attackers to stop for fuel. She ran into a wooded area and hid behind a tree as one of the assailants looked for her.

After they drove off, the victim sought help from two people living above Big Marine Lake Wine and Spirits in Scandia, Minn. She called 911 with a borrowed phone.

The two other defendants were 16 years old at the time of the attack and were certified to stand trial as adults.

Wayne Junior Armstrong, 17, and Darius Decameron Freeman, 18, each pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for 12-year sentences.

Investigators say DNA connected to all three defendants was found on the victim.

Armstrong is scheduled to be sentenced Friday. Freeman's sentencing hearing is set for May 29.