Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Man falsely imprisoned for rape seeks restitution -- to pay for attorneys who did the job the state should have done before he was wrongly convicted

This is a travesty about an innocent man sent to prison for a rape he didn't commit, and the parties responsible -- the state and the liar -- who refuse to take responsibility.

First, the state. Defense attorneys won the man's release with evidence that the Missouri Highway Patrol’s crime lab failed to report before his trial. In a report sent to prosecutors, lab workers said they found no semen to test in the woman’s rape kit but didn’t include notes mentioning other possible biological materials in the evidence. The attorneys paid for additional testing, which found a DNA profile that didn’t match the man or the accuser's husband. Five years later, it was matched to another man, leading the woman to confess the cover-up.

The innocent man is merely looking for money to repay family members who paid the man's attorneys. You know, the attorneys who did the job the state should have done before they let an innocent man be imprisoned.

It is disgraceful that this man has to fight for a relatively small sum of money.

Second, the false accuser. She lied to cover up an extra-marital affair (a typical motive in these cases, as we see on this Web site). But she can't be punished for her perjury because the statute of limitations bars it. That is an injustice that needs to be corrected. If a man serves -- for instance -- 30 years for a rape he didn't commit due to a woman's lie, it is only because the lie had its intended effect. If the lie is finally discovered, society should not excuse the liar from prosecution on the basis that the statute of limitations has run out -- that is only rewarding her for being a good liar. The statutes of limitaiton need to be changed. They should start to run only after the lie is revealed. Many states are now expanding or eliminating altogether their statutes of limitations for rape, so if a rapist can be prosecuted forever, why shouldn't the false accuser?

Do you mean to tell me there is a double standard here in the way men and women are treated when it comes to rape? The entire area is rife with double standards. For example, the false accuser is afforded anonymity but the identity of the man she falsely accused is splashed all over the news, his reputation often destroyed beyond repair -- even on the basis of a far-fetched claim. And what about sentencing? Well, some states impose life sentences for rapists, but most states treat false claims as minor crimes deserving of a sentence of just six months to two years. Across the board rape is sentenced more harshly than false claims. So if he serves 30 years on the basis of her lie, the most she might serve is six months or two years. And exactly how does that punishment fit the crime?

HERE IS THE NEWS STORY:

Man seeks restitution for his time in prison on false rape charges

Published Sunday, June 29, 2008

SPRINGFIELD (AP) - A Seymour man is demanding restitution from the state after being jailed for more than 21 months for a rape he didn’t commit.

Armand Villasana, then living in Springfield, was convicted in 1999 of kidnapping Judith Ann Lummis from a Sonic Drive-in, then raping and sodomizing her at knifepoint.

Seven months later, he was exonerated when his defense attorneys presented evidence showing DNA collected from the woman’s rape kit didn’t match Villasana.

Lummis acknowledged in 2007 that she made up the rape story to cover up an extramarital affair.

Greg Aleshire, an attorney for Villasana, filed a petition Friday in Greene County Circuit Court seeking reimbursement for the time his client spent in prison after his conviction.

"We were looking at several different angles for Mr. Villasana, and this one appeared to be the most viable," Aleshire said.

State law allows anyone convicted but later found innocent by DNA testing to receive $50 for every day he or she is behind bars post-conviction.

The petition filed by Aleshire requests $11,250 for the 225 days between Villasana’s conviction on Nov. 10, 1999, and his June 21, 2000, release.

Aleshire said Villasana needs the money to pay back family members who lent him money for his defense attorneys. "He’s not getting ahead on this - it will just allow him to pay back money that he owes," Aleshire said. "The other problem for Armand, too, is he spent a year and a half in jail before his conviction, and he gets nothing for that."

By seeking restitution, Villasana also waives his ability to sue the state or other government agency for his incarceration.

Villasana’s defense attorneys won his release with evidence that the Missouri Highway Patrol’s crime lab failed to report before his trial. In a report sent to prosecutors, lab workers said they found no semen to test in the woman’s rape kit but didn’t include notes mentioning other possible biological materials in the evidence.

The attorneys paid for additional testing, which found a DNA profile that didn’t match Villasana, Lummis or her husband. Five years later, it was matched to another man, leading Lummis to confess the cover-up.

Prosecutors couldn’t charge Lummis with perjury because the statute of limitations had passed but she spent seven months in prison for probation violations.

Aleshire called Lummis "the real culprit in this" and said Villasana had considered suing her for his time behind bars.

The link: http://www.columbiatribune.com/2008/Jun/20080629News023.asp