June 03, 2005

And This Is What a B in Crim Looks Like

by PG

I am convinced that if I had done better in class, this case would make more sense to me. There are identical twin brothers who both participated in a crime, the kidnapping of a 9-year-old girl for the purpose of rape. The DNA of the semen left in the child could belong to either one. The prosecutors already got Hugo to plead guilty to aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping in return for 15 years and a promise to testify at Aldo's trial. Aldo, for his part, must overcome a videotaped confession in which he demonstrates how he raped the girl.

What confuses me is that if the child reported and the evidence demonstrated her being raped by only one person (the news story is unclear on this point), how can the prosecution plausibly go after both brothers for the sexual assault itself? If Texas if is like Louisiana, the prosecution could seek the death penalty for raping a little girl, but the jury is likely to be disturbed by the idea of convicting Aldo if Hugo has admitted to the crime.

June 3, 2005 03:44 AM | TrackBack
Comments

Doesn't this come about because the twins asked to have separate trials? I seem to remember reading a case in which two brothers were separately tried for a murder, which could only have been committed by one of them. Both juries found each brother guilty because they didn't get access to the other trial. I agree that this tactic is reprehensible and shouldn't be allowed, but the jury could potentially find each twin guilty. I can't remember the case right now, but I'll pass it along if it comes to mind.

Posted by: Sean Sirrine at June 3, 2005 12:07 PM

In New York and, I believe, in most other American jurisdictions, an accomplice can be convicted on the same basis as a principal. If Hugo aided and abetted the assault, he can be convicted of it even if he wasn't the one who actually sodomized the victim.

Posted by: Jonathan Edelstein at June 3, 2005 01:43 PM

Sean,
I could follow that scenario, but with Hugo testifying at Aldo's trial, presumably Aldo's jury will know that Hugo already has pled guilty to the sexual assault.

Jonathan,
Right, as long as it's an accomplice who's present during the crime rather than before or after the fact. But I thought the prosecution still would have to declare one person to be the one committing the crime and the other to be the accomplice.

Posted by: PG at June 5, 2005 03:00 PM

At least in NY, there's case law saying that prosecutors don't have to declare whether they're prosecuting a defendant as principal or accomplice, because there's no legal difference between the two.

Posted by: Jonathan Edelstein at June 6, 2005 02:28 PM
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