A few months ago I was contacted by criminal defense attorney Barry Gibson. He requested my services on a rape case he was defending that was in the metro Atlanta area. I went and met with the young man and interviewed him for about two hours. I came away from the meeting believing two things. One, sexual intercourse had been attempted and the police did a very sloppy investigation. The young man was adamant that he and the girl had agreed to "hook up" and she knew exactly what was going to occur. He and the girl had been friends for years, in fact since they had been in elementary school together. They had lost contact with each other for several years and then last year she had made contact with him through Facebook. After that initial contact, they messaged each other off and on for several weeks. She was currently attending college in Alabama and he was back home working after spending a few years in the military. They agreed to go out when the girl came home for a weekend. She came home one weekend, but the young man had left his cell phone in his Uncles truck and she was unable to contact him. Now the case gets interesting. The young lady contacts the man via Facebook and he responds apologizing for not having his phone. She tells him she understands and ask if he still wants to hook up. He told her yes. She said she would get with him on the next weekend she came home. A few days before the "Big Weekend" she sends him a message via Facebook and told him she would be in town the next weekend. They agree to meet up. On that Friday evening he gets off work and goes by and picks her up. The young lady gives two different accounts of what appends next. First she said they went out to dinner and then stopped at a liquor store aftewards and then went and checked into a motel. She claims she was completely suprised with going to the motel. She says she told the young man don't expect anything and all they would do is talk and watch TV. The young man says that after picking the young lady up, they went and got a motel room first. They then went out to dinner and then stopped at a liquor store on the way back to the room. There they drank and did watch some TV. The couple engaged in kissing and fondling and some oral sex. According to the man, the girl was on top of him when all of a sudden she bites him very hard on his shoulder (he still has the bite mark to prove this). It startles him and said that it was very painful. He threw her off of him and she fell to the floor. He began yelling at her asking why she bit him. At this time she begins to scream for help. The police are called to the motel and the man is arrested. Now here is where the investigation gets "sloppy". No investigators or detectives were called to the scene. Uniform officers handled the entire investigation.The girl gave an oral statement and based on that the man was arrested and taken away to jail. The girl supposedly told the police that she had told him not to expect sex if they went to the motel. She said she tried to push him away, but he was persistent. She did say there had been no penetration. Here is where mistakes were made during the crime scene processing. Even though there was no penetration, the police should have seized the bed sheets and the girls clothing for lab analysis for trace evidence such as pubic hairs from the man and any seaman on the sheets and/or clothing. After the girl gets to the police department, the girl is handed a blank piece of paper and told to write out her statement. No detailed questions to clear up discrepancies in her statement. I think the police feel like they have an open and shut case.
The young man remains in jail for several months and then his mother is able to get him out on bond. The defense attorney then provided me with the discovery material that is required to be turned over by the DA's office. This consisted of photos and witness statements and the oral and written statements of the girl. They also provided the cell phone records that had been subpoenaed to show the contact between the young man and young lady. The Facebook accounts of both of them were also provided. I sat down and went over the cell phone records for over an hour and did not see any indication of contact via text or calls between the two. I knew this could not be true and then looked even deeper and found the authorities had transposed two of the numbers in the girls cell phone number and the records were not associated with her phone but with someone not even remotely connected to this case. Then I began to examine the Facebook documents. I first looked at the young man's post and messages. and did not find any communication between the two. She was not even listed as a friend. I contacted him and started naming off some of his friends he had listed and he said he had never heard of them. Looking deeper, authorities had subpoenaed the wrong account. It was his name, but a different person who lives in the state of Louisiana. I then examined her Facebook records. Three days before the "rape" I find a message where the girl and sent the man the following "Sorry I missed you the past weekend, hope we can try to meet up again when IM home." He responded he was sorry too, but had left his phone in his Uncle's car and that is why she couldn't get in touch with him. She then asked him if he wanted to try to get together the next weekend she is in town and he said yes. She then ask him "DO YOU WANT ME TO SPEND THE NIGHT WITH YOU?" I was floored when I saw that. That does not sound like a woman who did not anticipate having a sexual encounter and was just going to the motel to watch TV and talk. In fact, IM not sure the police had even looked at these records and were unaware of them or they would have gone back to the girl and questioned her about that message.
The young man gets to court a few days ago and the DA'S office is expecting him to enter a guilty plea. Boy were they suprised. He refused. The DA's office finally agreed to let him plea to false imprisonment under the First Offender Act and all other charges were dropped. He was sentenced to time already served and walked out of the courthouse a free man.
If the police and attorney's had taken the time to review their own records they had subpoenaed this case should never have gotten this far. In my opinion this was a very sloppy investigation due to uniform officers that had not been trained to investigate these serious cases. In addition, I see more and more investigations where just enough is done to make a case, but no more. No in depth investigation or follow up. No items were submitted to the crime lab for analysis. It was either sloppy work, untrained officers, just doing enough to get by or a combination of all three. IM just glad I was able to help this young man get his day in court and the TRUE facts came out.