Saturday, December 13, 2008

DE - High court overturns rape conviction

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The Delaware Supreme Court overturned the rape conviction of a 39-year-old man saying the prosecutor was wrong to suggest to jurors that only the guilty are taken to trial.

Deputy Attorney General Donald R. Roberts' comments jeopardized the fairness and integrity of the trial, the Supreme Court said in its eight-page opinion issued last week.

Roberts' statement that prosecutors don't take "falsely reported cases to trial," removed defendant _____'s presumption of innocence, Supreme Court Chief Justice Myron T. Steele wrote.

"The Delaware Constitution recognizes the presumption of innocence as a fundamental right," Steele said. "For the prosecutor to imply to the jury that he, and the state, prosecutes guilty people only, deprives _____ of that fundamental right."

Steele went on to say it was the prosecutor's duty to represent the state, which includes the defendant, on trial: "Therefore, it is his duty to see that the State's case is presented with earnestness and vigor, but it is equally his duty to see that justice be done by giving the defendant a fair and impartial trial."

Jules Epstein, associate professor at Widener University School of Law, said the comments shows a lack of training a prosecutor gets in his or her office.

"Prosecutors don't determine if something is false, juries do," Epstein said, adding it is wrong for prosecutors to "vouch" for their cases. "Vouching is prohibited. The prosecutor is never allowed to say 'I personally, or we the government institutionally, believe this witness, disbelieve that witness or know this fact to be true.

"Those are long-standing no, nos."

It is not uncommon to see this sort of prosecutorial misconduct in emotional-charged cases, such as sex offenses, Epstein said.

In 1987, _____ was convicted of rape and robbery by a New Jersey jury. In his appeal, _____ argued that the prosecutor made improper arguments when he told jurors: "The last thing I have to say is that if you don't believe [the victim] and you think she's lying, then you've probably perpetrated a worse assault on her."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned the conviction in 2001 saying the prosecutor's comments were "outrageous" and "calculated to divert the jury from its sworn duty to focus on the evidence."

"They're very emotional cases," Epstein said, suggesting they are often credibility cases in which the "prosecutors feel strongly about the complaintent as a victim and emotions take over."

According to court records, _____ was met at a vacant Wilmington house on Dec. 27, 2006, by a woman he previously had lived with. The two had had sex before and did heroin together. On that day, the two were doing drugs when they began to fight.

When _____ told the woman to take off her clothes, she resisted and they continued fighting until they fell asleep. They woke up the next day and resumed fighting. This is when he raped her, according to court documents.

_____ was arrested the following month and convicted in February of first-degree rape, aggravated menacing and unlawful imprisonment in the first degree.

The Delaware Attorney General's Office said it respects the Supreme Court's decision and the case would be given to another attorney when it comes up for trial.

MA - Inmate in court lockup slashes wrists

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By Julie Manganis - Staff writer

SALEM — A Lawrence man in custody on charges that he repeatedly failed to register as a sex offender slashed his wrists in a holding cell at Salem Superior Court yesterday morning.

It remains unclear how _____, 30, got the small blade he apparently used to injure himself.

Paul Fleming, a spokesman for Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins, said jail officials are investigating. They did not discover any blade during a pat-down after _____ changed clothing at Middleton Jail to be brought to court.

_____, whose arms were bandaged from his hands to his elbows, was led from an elevator on foot, then placed on a stretcher to be taken to Salem Hospital at around 9:30 a.m.

_____ stared downward as he and a court officer waited for an ambulance crew to bring the stretcher inside the courthouse.

He remained at the hospital, under guard, as of late yesterday afternoon, Fleming confirmed.

_____ was due in court for a hearing on motions for discovery in his cases. His attorney filed a request for funds for a psychological evaluation of _____, something that she had already prepared before _____'s apparent suicide try yesterday.

CT - Ex-cop sent to jail for groping woman during traffic stop

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By John Nickerson - Staff Writer

NORWALK - Former city police officer Ray DeCamillo on Friday was ordered to serve nine months in prison and will be required to register as a sexual offender for groping a woman during a 2006 traffic stop.

DeCamillo, 37, of New Canaan, was convicted in October of fourth-degree sexual assault and second-degree unlawful restraint.

At his sentencing, Judge Maureen Dennis sentenced him to two years in prison, suspended after nine months served and followed by three years probation.

Two other women testified that DeCamillo acted in an inappropriate sexual manner with them while he was on duty.

Detective Bureau Sgt. Arthur Weisgerber, lead investigator in the case, said he was pleased with the verdict and commended the women for coming forward with their stories and trusting the police department to see the investigation through.

"I'm pleased that we have removed a person from the department who did not belong in that position," Weisgerber said.

DeCamillo was convicted of pulling over the woman, now 23, on Silvermine Avenue in Norwalk early in the morning of July 5, 2006. She said DeCamillo grabbed her left breast and gave her his personal cell phone number, which she turned over to police.

He was fired in May 2007, after more than 21Ú2 years with the department.

During his three-year probation, DeCamillo must participate in sexual offender evaluation and treatment, is prohibited from owning firearms, may have no contact with the victims and have no unsupervised conduct with women younger than 17 years old, Dennis said. He also was prohibited from obtaining a job as a security officer or police officer during probation.

Once released, his picture will be placed on the sex offender registry for 10 years, and he will be required to update his living address regularly.

Before the sentencing, Assistant State's Attorney Michael DeJoseph said he had never seen a more "disturbing" set of circumstances in a criminal case in his 12 years as a prosecutor.

"He has completely abused his office and completely abused the trust society has placed in him," DeJoseph said.

DeJoseph also took umbrage that a pre-sentence investigation disclosed that DeCamillo continues to deny culpability for his actions that July night in 2006.

DeJoseph asked Dennis to "send a message" that this conduct will not be tolerated by sending DeCamillo to jail for 11 months.

"The defendant needs to be incarcerated. He abused the public trust and still maintains he did nothing wrong," DeJoseph said.

DeCamillo's attorney, William Pelletreau, told Dennis that his client has no criminal record and would probably not offend again.

Pelletreau asked that he be given a suspended sentence with no jail time and with community service.

DeCamillo briefly addressed Dennis and said the picture painted of him by DeJoseph was not accurate.

He told Dennis that he worked for years in the YMCA and developed programs for special needs children.

He also said that there was no reason for society to fear him.

After DeCamillo was sentenced and handcuffed by judicial marshals, Pelletreau asked that the sentence be set aside until after the holidays. Dennis denied the motion.

With DeCamillo being led away by judicial marshal at each elbow, Pelletreau then asked if the judge would request that DeCamillo be reviewed by the state Department of Correction for protective custody while he serves his sentence. Dennis complied.

UK - Man stabbed to death, and brutally mauled by a vigilante mob squad, before he even went to court to prove he was actually guilty!

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