MARTINEZ -- With a shaky but booming voice that drew bailiffs to his side, a Pittsburg man continued to assert his innocence Friday as he was sentenced to 35 years to life for raping an ex-girlfriend.

"You can send me away. You can't lock up my spirit," said Cornelius McClendon, a 31-year-old convicted by jury in November of forced oral copulation, domestic violence assault and two counts of rape.

"You are locking up an innocent man," he said.

McClendon had a history of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend when, on June 3, 2012, he choked her into unconsciousness during an argument, deputy district attorney Ryan Wagner said. When she awoke, her hands were bound with a computer cord, a T-shirt filled her mouth, and McClendon was sexually assaulting her.

At one point, he threatened the victim with a knife, the judge said.

McClendon acted as his own attorney at trial and was acquitted on charges of attempted murder and dissuading a witness. He was unsuccessful Friday in his motion for a new trial.

Judge Susanne Fenstermacher said that in choosing the maximum term on some of the counts, she considered that McClendon minimized the crime and his domestic violence history to the jury, going as far as blaming the victim for provoking him into violence.

The judge said she is concerned that he never took any responsibility and shows no remorse.

"He is the type of offender for which the Three Strikes law was enacted," Fenstermacher said.


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McClendon has a previous strike for residential burglary; this case represents a second strike, Wagner said.

McClendon said he would appeal the conviction.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.