Saturday, August 15, 2009

Judge tells rape convict who has evidence tending to show accuser recanted: drop dead

The comments to the news story below show that the public, generally tough on law and order issues, sometimes knows more about justice than the judicial system professionals when it comes to false rape claims:

"I don't know if this person is guilty , But leave it to the 'justice ' ....Better an innocent man stay imprisoned, than look into the facts that could prove contrary . WAY TO GO in Niflong-ing this guy . . . ."

"i dont think i would be polite in a court room if i was innocent and was being sent to prison for something i did not do....would you ?"

". . . what's the harm in granting a new trial if they are so convinced hes a RAPIST, and there may be evidence pointing to the contrary? Having anger issues (possibly stemming from being wrongfully accused) doesn't warrant a 125-year prison term. . . . . I don't know anymore about this case than whats printed in this article but it would seem they are denying this man the right to a fair trial while trying to justify his sentence due to his history."

HERE IS THE NEWS STORY:

No new trial in rape case, judge rules

ADRIAN, Mich. - A defense claim that a teenage girl admitted she lied about being raped when she testified in Lenawee County Circuit Court was rejected Wednesday, leaving Richard Gene Whatman to continue serving a 62 1/2- to 125-year prison term.

Whatman, 35, was found guilty by a jury on May 20 of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The trial was marred by two outbursts by Whatman that ended with police wrestling him to the floor and carrying him out of Judge Timothy P. Pickard’s courtroom.

The 2006 sexual assault the girl described in her testimony resulted in the lengthy prison term handed down on July 1.

Whatman denied the assault before the sentence was handed down.

The Adrian man’s attorney, public defender Anna Maria Anzalone, had already filed a motion for a new trial based on Internet conversations a former girlfriend of Whatman claimed she had with the girl after the trial.

“It’s clear she recanted her allegations,” Anzalone told the court Wednesday.

A transcript of a June 6 conversation showed Cassandra Boehning of Ohio asked the girl if she made up a story about being raped by Whatman because of family disputes.

According to the print-out, she answered, “... it actually didn’t happen i lied i was mad.”

The girl should be questioned about the Internet conversation in front of a new jury, Anzalone said.

“It would be a grave injustice to deny Mr. Whatman a new trial,” she argued.

Assistant Lenawee County Prosecutor Laura Schaedler said the girl denies recanting her testimony.

Even if the copy of the Internet chat is accurate, Schaedler told the court, it is not proof she lied about being raped.

“We have no idea of the context or what the intent of that is,” Schaedler said. It may have been a sarcastic reply to a question that offended her, she said.

Pickard agreed that the computer print-out from a witness who tried to support Whatman’s alibi at trial is not sufficient evidence for a new trial.

The printed conversation has not been verified he said. And Boehning is not a credible source, Pickard said, because her alibi testimony at Whatman’s trial was proven false by other evidence.

The meaning of the girl’s comment in the print-out is also unclear in the context of the conversation, Pickard said.

The issue is likely to be brought up again with the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Anzalone asked the court to approve appointment of an appellate attorney to handle the case at that level.

At the July 1 sentencing, Pickard said Whatman’s history of violence and the outbursts and threats made against the prosecutor and police during his trial convinced him Whatman is a threat to society.

The girl asked for a lengthy prison term.“He hurt me in the worst possible way,” she told the court. “I have gained nothing but one thing, that he won’t be around to hurt me again.”

Link: http://www.lenconnect.com/news/x772299447/No-new-trial-in-rape-case-judge-rules