Appellate court reverses convictions for accused Middlesex County serial rapist based on inappropriate trial procedures

Based on number of errors made by the trial court, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently reversed convictions for a burglary and three separate rape and sexual assault incidents that occurred in Middlesex County. As a result, the defendant’s 80 year sentence for these crimes was dismissed and the charges were remanded for new trials.

The first error involved the trial court’s decision to include the burglary and two of the rape incidents in the same trial. As the appellate court explained, for the charges to be tried together, they had to either share signature characteristics or arise from the same criminal event. The trial court grouped the charges together because the defendant used a knife and a condom during each of the rapes and was carrying both a knife and a condom when he was arrested after the burglary. But the appellate court ruled that the burglary didn’t share a signature characteristic with the rapes because it didn’t involve any sexual assault. Nor could the use of a knife and a condom in both rapes establish a signature characteristic because they weren’t particularly unique criminal circumstances. And because each of the incidents occurred at least several months apart, the court found that they couldn’t be considered part of the same criminal event.

 

The appellate court also found that it was error for the trial court to admit evidence regarding the burglary during the trial on the third rape because the evidence was only indirectly related to the rape and it wasn’t necessary for the prosecution’s case. The only real purpose for using the evidence was to prejudice the defendant, and this wasn’t a sufficient reason.

 

This case is important because it shows how the judicial system protects criminal defendants from evidence admitted solely to paint them in a bad light in front of a jury. Every defendant is entitled to a fair trial, and having an experienced defense attorney is the best way to ensure that trial procedures and the rules of evidence are followed the first time around.

 

If you’ve been accused of a sex crime in Middlesex County or anywhere else in New Jersey, you can contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, for a free and confidential consultation by calling me at 1-866-664-8118. I’ve been defending individuals against sex crime charges for almost four decades and I can give you an honest assessment of the penalties you face and the best possible avenues of relief.