Double Rape: Mistrial
Double Rape: Mistrial.
A hardworking, Hispanic father with no criminal record was accused by two drug-abusing prostitutes of abduction, rape, and assault. The two prostitutes did not know each other. However, they were both separately abducted and assaulted on the same night by two men, one black and one white, driving a dark colored SUV. The first prostitute, a white heroin addict, got into the dark SUV with the two men. They then drove to a parking lot of an apartment complex. Once there, the men jumped into the backseat, forced the woman to strip, and then took turns physically and sexually assaulting her. When they were finished they tossed the naked woman from their vehicle and onto the street.
They then tossed out her belongings and sped off. The woman ran behind a building to hide, got dressed, and then pulled a nearby fire alarm. Fire, rescue, and police arrived on scene. Approximately one hour later, a black and drug-addicted prostitute was also picked up by two men in a dark-colored SUV. She too was driven to a remote parking lot and similarly attacked. After the men tossed her and her belongings onto the street, she rang the doorbell of a private residence. The occupants answered the door, observed the naked and bloodied woman there asking for help and called 9-1-1.
Police immediately began investigating the two apparently related assaults and placed a description out on the radio of a dark-colored SUV with two males, one black and one white, with the darker skin male being the oldest. The description did not include any make, model, or license plate information. A patrol officer who overheard the radio transmission observed a two-toned, dark-colored SUV pulled off to the roadside with a single, Hispanic occupant speaking to an apparent prostitute. Police stopped to question the man.
A check of his license and registration showed that the documentation was active. The man also had no warrants or criminal history. Rather than let the man go off on his way, police detained him in the back of a patrol car. Another officer then transported the black prostitute to the scene to observe the man. Surrounded by uniformed police officers with a spotlight on him, the woman identified the Hispanic man as one of her abductors. As a result, the man was arrested and charged with rape and felony assault. The next day, detectives interviewed the white prostitute and asked her to make an identification of her attacker. Included in the photo array was the Hispanic male who was arrested and identified the night earlier by the black prostitute. This woman also identified the man as possibly her attacker, which resulted in a second set of charges.
The Hispanic man hired Rhode Island Criminal Defense and Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer, John L. Calcagni III, to defend him against these horrific charges. Attorney Calcagni’s first priority was to set his client free on bail while awaiting trial. Attorney Calcagni conducted some preliminary discovery to establish an alibi for his client. He also showed the Court how his client, a bearded Hispanic male, did not meet the victims’ description of their attackers as clean-shaven black and white men. These developments convinced the Court to set the man free on bail.
Attorney Calcagni then prepared for trial. He also brought on Attorney John E. MacDonald to assist with this important courtroom battle. The two lawyers filed and argued motions to suppress and exclude certain evidence at trial, which the Court allowed. They also prepared to cross-examine and undermine State witnesses, as well as to present the testimonies of defense witnesses to establish the man’s alibi through electronic records, which showed him at home on his computer moments before the first woman was attacked. If believed by the jury, the man could not possibly have had time to leave his home, connect with a friend (the women claimed there were two attackers), locate and pick-up the first prostitute, and attack her in time, as alleged. If the man was not involved in the first attack with the first victim, he could not possibly have been involved with the second event.
At trial, Attorney Calcagni also cross-examined both victims to establish their drug use, inability to clearly see their attackers, and discrepancies in their initial identifications of the attackers and in-court identifications of the Hispanic man. Also, there was no forensic evidence in this case. The man’s SUV, which police seized, did not match the description of the vehicle given by the women. The victims claimed their attackers drove a dark-colored SUV, while the man’s vehicle was two-tone.
Also, police did not locate any blood, saliva, or other bodily fluid in the vehicle consistent with the described physical and sexual attacks. They also did not recover any of the women’s property or clothing, or forensic evidence such as hair, DNA or fingerprints to prove the women were ever inside the vehicle. Attorney Calcagni successfully argued to the jury that his client was the victim of a mistaken identity. After days of deliberations, the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on the man’s guilt or innocence. As a result, the Court declared a mistrial, which was technically a victory for the Defense.