Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Recanting Witnesses Do Not Swing Prison Gates Open

State v. Anderson, No. 06-1212 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 14, 2007).

Anderson was convicted of sex abuse and burglary. He was accused of breaking into an apartment, roughing up the female occupant, and then raping her. After her initial testimony, it seems the victim found out how much punishment Anderson was facing, and then attempted to recant her testimony.
In her letter to the court the victim stated that she'd been under the influence of several medications, had been scared of being prosecuted for perjury, Anderson lived in her apartment, they had consensual sex, and that she was used by the Waterloo PD to frame Anderson and put him away.

At a hearing on the letter the victim reiterated these claims, and the court heard from an investigator who related that the victim has cooperated with police and told them substantially what she'd testified to. She then said on the second day of trial that she was going to change her testimony because of the potential length of the sentence, and was told in no uncertain terms that she'd be courting perjury if she did so.

The district court, after hearing the evidence, found that the victim had made two statements that were consistent with her testimony at trial, and that witnesses to the events had also made recorded statements that supported the first version of events.

The Court of Appeals found that recantations are viewed with deep suspicion. A person convicted of a crime should not be given a new trial unless the court is satisfied that the testimony of a material witness was false or mistaken, and unless a jury might reach a different conclusion without such testimony. The trial court, in the view of the Court of Appeals, was in the best position to assess the testimony given.


At 6:01 PM, Blogger G. F. McDowell said...

There is something fishy here. If I had been raped, I would press for a harsher sentence, not one more lenient. Aren't they even slightly concerned with getting the truth???


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