A defendant in Troy, AL was sentenced recently to 85 years in prison following his conviction for the sexual assault of two women in the same day.
Our Birmingham defense attorneys understand that one of those women was left severely injured, and the defendant had also been convicted of a second-degree burglary charge as well.
He was given 85 years on each of the rape charges – which carried a maximum life sentence as Class A felonies under Alabama law – and 20 years on the burglary charge, which will run concurrently.
In reality, this is a life sentence. By the time he is eligible for release, he would be 121 years-old. He’s also serving a 22-year sentence for another felony theft charge, which was used to enhance his sentence in the current case. In other words, his chance of release – barring an appeal – are slim.
DNA was a key component in this case, where both alleged victims did not know the defendant.
According to prosecutors, the defendant broke into the mobile home of a young woman and violently raped her, causing her to suffer injuries so severe that she has had to undergo a number of surgeries.
The defendant, later identified as the owner of a local car wash and detailing operation, then fled on foot.
A short time later that day, another woman was allegedly sexually attacked while visiting with family there.
A rough sketch of the suspect was released, and he was arrested soon after. He has maintained his innocence.
As in so many sex offense cases, DNA evidence was critical.
But it’s worth noting that DNA testing – once thought to be infallible – is subject to serious errors, and labs themselves are often poorly regulated.It may be too late to make that argument in this case, but there are situations when this approach could absolutely be worth pursuing.
The crime lab world is notoriously unregulated and, in many cases, the work is done shabbily. Take for example the recent case out of New York City, reportedly one of the most advanced facilities in the country. And yet, hundreds of cases have had to undergo intensive review after the city’s medical examiner found that it failed to upload critical DNA evidence into the state’s database inn about 50 different cases.
This was after it was learned that technicians had missed certain DNA evidence present in material in about 26 cases. Though that error in particular might have worked in favor of defendants, the lack of oversight is troubling, especially given the weight courts tend to give this type of evidence.
But even when the DNA evidence is fairly solid, there are other grounds on which cases such as these can be challenged. Those include witness accounts and investigation tactics.
Witness accounts are often highly unreliable, especially for those who have suffered a violent attack. The trauma can skew a person’s perception. Also, victims want so badly for someone to be caught that they may end up making hasty judgments or conclusions about a particular suspect, even when they aren’t 100 percent certain.
With regard to police tactics, these would include elements like interrogation methods (did officers provide a proper Miranda warning, did they ignore the suspect’s requests for a lawyer, etc.) and search and seizure procedures. If officers lacked a warrant or probable cause in their search of a vehicle or location or person, whatever evidence they uncovered there may have to be suppressed.
Our promise to you is that no matter what the circumstances of your case, we are dedicated to ensuring that you receive a fair trial and that we will do everything in our power to thoroughly explore all avenues of your defense.