Dismissal sought in Steubenville rape case
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Attorneys for a high school football player facing rape accusations in Ohio are asking a judge to dismiss the case against him because they say the “unavailability of material witnesses” denies him his right to a fair trial.
A West Virginia judge last week rejected requests that three juveniles be called to testify at the eastern Ohio trial of two high school football players charged with raping a 16-year-old girl. The girl is from West Virginia.
The juveniles’ testimony was expected to bolster the players’ defense against the charges.
Attorneys representing one defendant argue in a motion to dismiss the case that one of the witnesses was a friend of the girl’s and can testify to the alleged victim’s alcohol intake and relationship with the teen.
“Additionally, the witness will testify that she spoke to the alleged victim immediately following the alleged incident, and will provide information about the victim’s words, conduct, and state of mind,” the attorneys wrote in their motion.
The two students go on trial Wednesday in Jefferson County juvenile court in Steubenville on charges they attacked the girl after an alcohol-fueled party last August. Their attorneys have denied the charges.
The attorneys for the first defendant, Brian Duncan and Adam Lee Neeman, argue that the multiple out-of-state witnesses are “essential to presenting a complete defense.”
They say the witnesses have participated in videotaped or documented interviews with Steubenville police and have offered statements that would support their client’s position that he did not rape the girl.
A second witness allegedly received a nude photograph of the girl from that defendant, the attorneys wrote in their motion. Another witness saw the teen and the girl the following morning and “can provide essential information regarding the interaction between the Defendant and the alleged victim, the alleged victim’s appearance, and statements made by the alleged victim,” according to the motion.
The attorney for the other defendant did not respond to messages Monday night seeking comment on the request for dismissal.
In an order last week, Hancock County Judge Ronald Wilson ruled that no legal case was cited from anywhere in the country to support the argument that the three West Virginia juveniles can be compelled to testify in Ohio.
Ohio and West Virginia law is different for a juvenile delinquency hearing compared to a criminal trial, Wilson said in the four-page ruling on Wednesday.
The request for the subpoenas came through Ohio Judge Thomas Lipps, after defense attorneys filed motions with him asking that the three witnesses appear at the trial.
Dozens of witnesses for both sides are expected to testify at the trial. Their testimony is considered crucial because the girl was severely intoxicated that night and appeared to be passed out at times, according to several witnesses.
She is not expected to testify herself.