Convicted rapist's shocking attempt to overturn conviction

Author
news.com.au,
Section
World,
Publish Date
Monday, 4 December 2017, 4:05PM
Brock Turner served only three months of his sentence for sexual assault. (Photo/NZ Herald)
Brock Turner served only three months of his sentence for sexual assault. (Photo/NZ Herald)

Lawyers for the Stanford University student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus have filed a shocking argument appealing his sentence.

Brock Turner completed only half of the six-month jail term he was handed in 2016 before being released on good behaviour.

But now, the registered sex offender wants his conviction overturned and is requesting a new trial, with his argument for appeal detailed in an extraordinary 172-page document that focuses largely on how drunk the victim was on the night of the attack.

About 60 pages of the appellant's opening brief detail the 22-year-old woman, known as Emily Doe's, state of intoxication.

Turner was charged after two fellow Stanford students witnessed the assault taking place in January 2015 while they were riding bicycles near the famed university. Turner was 19 at the time.

Turner was found guilty in March 2016 on three counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.

The document, filed to the state of California's court of appeal, cites the victim's suspected blood alcohol level and makes a case for her being drunk on the night of the assault, while emphasising Turner's "high moral character".

"In preparation for the party, Ms Doe consumed four shots of whisky at the Doe residence ... after which Ms Doe's mother drove them to the Stanford campus and dropped them off around 11.00pm, when they entered the Kappa Alpha house and continued drinking," the brief reads.

"Ms Doe's last recollection of the evening is standing on the Kappa Alpha patio and drinking beer with the group."

In the appeal, lawyers for Turner argue their client was denied due process during his trial and called it "fundamentally unfair".

As well as focusing on the victim's alcohol intake, the key to Turner's request for a new trial is the statement the prosecutor was said to have made repeatedly during the trial, saying the assault occurred "behind the dumpster".

Turner's lawyers are arguing that the assault did not happen "behind the dumpster", but near one.

The victim, the appeal states, was found in a "completely open setting," adding that the implication that the crime occurred "behind the dumpster" prejudiced the jury against Turner. Lawyers say this inaccuracy amounted to prosecutorial misconduct.

Turner's appeal says that the champion swimmer was denied a fair trial because character witnesses were excluded by the court. It also claims the prosecution failed "to present constitutionally sufficient evidence" to support the three counts of conviction.

Turner's lawyer, Eric Multhaup, said he had nothing to add about "the unfairness of the conviction" beyond the court filing.

"What we are saying is that what happened is not a crime," John Tompkins, Turner's legal adviser, told KNTV. "It happened, but it was not anywhere close to a crime."

In a statement released on Saturday, the Santa Clara County district attorney Jeff Rosen said Turner "received a fair trial and was justly convicted".

"His conviction will be upheld. Nothing can ever roll back Emily Doe's legacy of raising the world's awareness about sexual assault."

Turner's six-month sentence had initially prompted international outcry for being too lenient after the trial made news around the world after the victim's excruciating impact statement was made public.

In the statement read out in court, Ms Doe described waking up in a hospital after the attack covered in dried blood and bandages with no recollection of what had happened.

She said it wasn't until she was asked to sign papers that said "Rape Victim" that she had any idea of what had happened, and later found out from a news article the state that she was found in — unconscious with her hair dishevelled, dress pulled over her shoulders and naked from the waist down with legs spread apart.

ON AIR: Veitch on Sport

12PM - 6PM