May 26, 2011
Tampa, Florida Rape Defense Attorney :: Hillsborough County Court Finds 19-Year-Old Guilty of Rape, Sentenced to 65 Years
A 19-year-old man was sentenced to concurrent 65-year prison sentences for the rapes of two women he committed when he was 15 and 16.
He was convicted of savagely beating and raping a high school student dropping off books at the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library in April 2008, when he was 16. She was beaten so badly she requires around-the-clock care; she was left blind and unable to walk, talk or eat on her own.
In a separate trial, he was also found guilty of breaking into Clair-Mel City day care center in June 2007 where he supposedly robbed and raped an employee at knife-point. The incident occurred when the man was 15-years-old.
The family of the library victim asked the judge for the maximum sentence the law would allow.
The man was convicted last year, but sentencing was delayed due to the defenses concerns about jury impartiality in the library rape case. The forewoman for the jury in the library rape case allegedly knew of the man’s earlier conviction in the day care rape and comments were posted on Facebook. The judge allowed her Facebook records to be subpoenaed.
The defense brought up a motion to reject the jury’s finding of guilt in the library case, but the judge dismissed the motion before the sentencing hearing. DNA evidence linked the man to the crime.
Under previous conditions, the juvenile could have been sentenced to life in prison. However, last year the U.S. Supreme Court struck down life sentences for juveniles in cases that did not involve murder.
Those who are selected to sit on a jury are required to maintain an open mind throughout the trial. They must listen to both sides of the story brought up by the defense and prosecutors. The jury’s purpose is to determine the facts of the case, so it is important that jury members do not have set opinions already in place before the trial begins.
A jury selection begins at the start of a trial in a selection process known as voir dire. A potential juror will be asked a series of questions which results in their dismissal or request to stay on for trial. If a juror is found to have lied during voir dire or concealed material facts when questioned, the defendant is entitled to a new trial.
Juror misconduct can be combated by filing a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. This requires a thorough investigation for evidence to be conducted so that evidence can be brought forth to the trial court. Despite the nature of the offense, all persons are entitled to a fair trial based off an unbiased and impartial jury.
If you have been convicted of rape in Florida and suspect there was juror misconduct, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers online or call 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).