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Life Sentence for Barberton Man Convicted of Raping Teen Who Fatally Overdosed

When 13-year-old Melanie Elkins was discovered deceased in an Akron alleyway last June, succumbing to an overdose, her passing sent shockwaves through the community.

A Barberton resident, Anthony Mignano, was handed a life sentence on Tuesday for the sexual assault of Melanie preceding her tragic demise, shedding light on the events leading up to the young girl’s death.

In January, Mignano, aged 30, entered a plea of no contest and was convicted in Summit County Common Pleas Court on charges including three counts of rape and three counts of gross sexual imposition. Judge Kathryn Michael imposed a life sentence on Mignano for his assault on Elkins when she was 12, with the possibility of parole after a decade.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh expressed, “The loss of Melanie Elkins has deeply affected our community. Incarcerating Anthony Mignano for life is a crucial step towards achieving justice for Melanie and her family.”

Melanie’s family, including her father David Fast, sister Natalie Richter, and grandmother Rhonda Elkins, emphasized that Melanie’s legacy endures, describing her as a kind, loving, and intelligent girl passionate about video games and forensic science.

During the spring of 2022, Mignano resided with Melanie and her father, acknowledging to engaging in sexual activities with Melanie on three occasions.

Mignano’s legal representation was provided by attorneys Erik Jones and Eddie Sipplen.

In the sentencing, Michael classified Mignano as a Tier 3 sex offender, mandating him to report his whereabouts to the sheriff’s office every 90 days indefinitely post-release.

Melanie was discovered lifeless on June 12 in Minordy Place, an Akron alley, with toxicology results indicating the presence of Fentanyl and methamphetamine as the likely cause of death. Her unexpected demise deeply affected her acquaintances and teachers at East Middle School.

Keith Earley, a 31-year-old Akron resident, was sentenced to nine months in jail in December after admitting guilt to gross abuse of a corpse and failure to report knowledge of a death for disposing of Melanie’s remains in the alley.

Prosecutors have affirmed their commitment to pursuing charges against anyone implicated in providing Melanie with the fatal drug dose, aligning with Summit County’s approach of holding accountable those responsible for drug-related deaths.

For inquiries, reach out to Stephanie Warsmith at 330-996-3705 or via Twitter: @swarsmithabj.