AUGUSTA — A Waterville man pleaded guilty Wednesday to raping a 73-year-old neighbor after breaking into her home in an attempt to steal money.

Mark D. Halle, 33, entered pleas at the Capital Judicial Center to charges of gross sexual assault, burglary and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, all of which occurred Feb. 7, 2016.

At the hearing, the prosecutor said the state wants Halle to serve an initial 20 years behind bars and then be supervised for another decade. The defense can argue for a lesser sentence.

Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, who sat with the victim in the gallery of the courtroom as the pleas were entered, said afterward, “That case makes me wish we had life in prison as an option.”

In the meantime, she said, “it will keep him out of our community for two decades and under supervision for another decade.”

The minister of the victim’s church and some of her friends were with her as well.

The gross sexual assault charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, Justice Donald Marden told Halle as Halle waived his trial rights. Halle, who has no previous criminal record, responded to the judge’s questions with one- and two-word answers.

Halle’s attorney, Pamela Ames, is expected to argue at a later hearing that the sentence should be lower.

After the February attack, Waterville police Chief Joe Massey cited the case as an example of why people should arm themselves.

“In cases like this, you wish the homeowner had a weapon and was capable of defending themselves,” he said at the time, drawing praise and criticism from gun experts.

In court on Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh recited the facts of the case at the hearing, saying Halle assaulted the woman after entering the neighbor’s home in the middle of the night by removing a window air conditioner. Cavanaugh said Halle put a pillow case over the woman’s head, sexually assaulted her, using a pellet gun that appeared to be a real gun to force her to comply, and then carried her into the shower, where he “hosed her down.”

Cavanaugh said Halle threatened to harm the woman and her family if she reported the attack.

“She said the Lord’s Prayer, and then called police,” Cavanaugh told the judge. The sexual assault was reported by the victim about 5 a.m.

Halle told police he originally broke in to steal money, and said he was too drunk to remember some details.

Police later found a discarded pellet gun and followed a trail to where Halle was staying with his sister.

Cavanaugh said no items were stolen from the victim’s home. The victim was treated at a hospital after the attack.

Halle stood in the prisoner’s dock while Cavanaugh described the events. Ames told the judge, “There are certain facts (Halle) does not recall probably because of the ingestion of alcohol.”

Cavanaugh said the state would be recommending a 30-year sentence on the gross sexual assault charge, with an initial 20 years to serve and the remaining 10 years suspended, and four years of probation.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled tentatively for Sept. 2, and in the meantime, Marden ordered Halle be held without bail.

He’s been held in lieu of $500,000 cash bail since his arrest the day after the sexual assault and burglary.

“He’s not going to get bail, Ms. Ames,” Marden said to the defense attorney after she said the state previously had attempted to extinguish Halle’s right to bail.

Cavanaugh said the state will dismiss another charge of gross sexual assault, a charge of aggravated assault and a charge of terrorizing with a dangerous weapon at the sentencing hearing as part of the plea negotiations. Halle was indicted on all the charges in April 2016.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams