I first saw this case when reading the Daily Camera last Fall. The prosecution was implying that a young man broke into a home with the intention to sexually assault a 5 year old girl in the middle of the night with her father home. The father was a hero, hearing something on a baby monitor, running down stairs and forcefully removing the man from the bedroom and then detaining him by the front door for police to arrest. This is how the case was presented to me by the prosecutor on the case as well. They suggested he may have been planning this and stalking the victim.
It quickly became clear that this was a fantasy of the prosecutor, an ugly one without support that would drive their wrongheaded view of the case through trial and continues to drive it after acquittal. The judge even said, at the final hearing, that this was a chain of events that could have been broken in so many ways preventing the “crime” – unfortunate for all that it was not. Press cases are harder, not because the jury is tainted necessarily, but because the prosecutor is looking for fame and status. But always remember, someone in the prosecution wrote the press release in the form of a barely ethical arrest warrant affidavit.
Unfortunately, the father read this and was told this and believed this as well. It harmed him emotionally, and blinded him to the facts.
The simple truth was what is somewhat common in a college town, a very intoxicated young man found an unlocked door and went in, disoriented and confused, he opened a door not knowing what was on the other side and said, “I am with the hotel.” Everyone assumed the worst because the door was a child’s bedroom.
When police arrived, the young man cooperated with them and thanked them for saving him from an attack (by the father). The father told police that after he told the young man to leave, he started towards the door, but turned for no reason and punched the father in the face hard and solid, a fight ensued. The physical evidence showed this to be a lie. The father had no injuries to his face. The child’s statements supported that the father struck first. It makes sense too – a father thinking the worst about the situation sees the perpetrator about to walk out the door to be seen again never or at the worst time, knocks him down to make sure he police can find him.
This night was the young man’s birthday. He was 2 weeks from entering the Marines. He had never been in trouble. He was drinking beer with his older brother and a few friends to celebrate, and not knowing when they could do this again. As everyone was leaving, the young man started acting strange – his brother tried to take care of him, to bring him home to a safe place. The young man said things like “who are you” and “where are you taking me” to his own brother. He fought to get out of the car. He forced his brother to stop the car and then ran away in fear of his brother. He found an open door in an area of town he never frequents.
It turns out that one of the people at the birthday gathering sells drugs and had a reason to drug the young man. He was jealous. He was left alone with the young man’s drink while the group smoked cigarettes outside. He placed a drug like LSD in the young man’s drink. Shortly after watching him drink it, he left. About 45 minutes later, the young man started acting strange.
The police all commented that the young man was on something, even suggesting LSD. They told the father that he would be tested for this drug (possible in the first few hours and specifically at this time). The police never tested him. The prosecution tried to cover this up at trial. The jury saw the truth.
When the young man woke up and came to in the jail, he was seen by a nurse. Still groggy and having no memory of the prior night nor knowledge of his current situation or the charges, he told the jail nurse that “I must have been drugged because I do not remember anything after my second beer.”
This young man nearly had his life derailed by a person that place powerful drugs in his drink setting in motion events that landed him in jail. Involuntary intoxication is a complete defense to any crime. Whereas a woman is usually drugged so that a sexual assault can occur, a man is usually drugged to rob him or for a terrible joke or to cause terror. Here, it was to cause terror. This was not a funny joke.
Given what happened, the drug dealer would never admit it. He is a dealer that lives outside of society and the law. His ex-girlfriend was too scared of his violence to testify or even give a full statement. She told some people one thing, but said different when my investigator went to her. The drug dealer did get arrested again. He is currently being prosecuted for felony assault on a different woman in a case that reads somewhat like an effort to get someone to pay using force. Maybe it was harming someone for talking when they should not. I have the police report.
No matter what evidence we brought the prosecution, they could not see this as a random event, outside of the control of my involuntarily drugged client. The prosecutor was simply trying to learn my case for trial, not acting in good faith. I have seen this numerous times in my over 20 years of trying cases. I gave them enough to make decisions, promising more if they agreed with my offer. I held back some, knowing their ruse, saving it for surprise at trial.
Even after a jury of 12 found in favor of the defense, approving of the story that he had been drugged, the prosecution fights. They object to the sealing of the case. They say the evidence was overwhelming, suggesting the jury got it wrong. All 12 agreed to the verdict. One juror said they were all in agreement of not guilty within 5 minutes – one or two wanted to review the case deeply and may have been closer to guilty than the rest. But, we had ten out of 12 as soon as they walked into the jury room. The prosecution even suggested the young man will have “future victims.” They never recognized that my client could be a victim of the person that drugged him. The prosecution was told of the drugging prior to trial. We made a very reasonable offer. The prosecutor fought this case as hard as they could, believing no jury would find him not guilty. They were stunned by the verdict.
My client, the young man, is free. He is working and living with his brother. He is preparing again to enter the Marines. He will not let a prosecutor’s myopic view of the world stop his life. I am proud that I could help him. I believe in the jury system. I know it the only place to get justice.
Voting and jury service is your most powerful way to tell your government how you feel. Do not let anyone tell you it is a waste of time.