Former University Of Kansas Student Convicted Of Raping White Teen Granted New Trial
Judge Sally Pokorny agreed with Albert Wilson's lawyers that his court-appointed trial attorney provided ineffective assistance.
March 22, 2021 at 3:48 pm
Former University Of Kansas student Albert Wilson will get a new trial after Judge Sally Pokorny agreed that his court-appointed trial attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel, according to Fox4 KC.
In 2019, Wilson was convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl that he met at a bar in Lawrence, Kansas, when he was 20. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. But advocates of Wilson, including rapper Meek Mill and Kim Kardashian, questioned the evidence used to convict him.
Pokorny sided with Wilson's lawyers, noting that there were things left out of the original trial that was crucial to the outcome of the case.
“The court’s confidence in the jury’s verdict is undermined by Mr. Lowry’s failure to review text messages. It is my firm belief that if a jury knew of the information contained in the 2,000 text messages taken from the victim’s phone, there is a substantial likelihood the outcome of this case would have been different,” Pokorny said, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.
According to Fox4 KC, those on Wilson's side question the lack of physical evidence proving the two had sex and expressed concerns about the jury, which was made up entirely of white people, mostly women. They also referenced racial bias on the part of the prosecutor, Amy McGowen.
But Wilson's argument for a new trial is centered on his court-appointed lawyer, who did not bring up text messages that disputed some of the statements the jury heard during the trial.
“As fathers of many children between the two of us, we do not take these accusations lightly. We know she has a different perspective. We feel really strongly Albert is an innocent man who was wrongfully accused,” Josh Dubin, a lawyer for Wilson and a member of the Innocence Project, told Fox4 KC.
“The reality of a retrial is we have to point out inconsistencies, we have to point out what we think was dishonest statements that the alleged victim made,” Dubin added.
The Lawrence Journal-World reported that Wilson met the girl at a bar on Sept. 10, 2016, while he was a full-time student at the University Of Kansas. The two left the bar to go to Wilson's home and came back after a short period of time, but both had different versions of what happened, according to a website created by advocates of Wilson.
Lawyers for Wilson disputed the testimony of forensic psychologist John Spiridigliozzi, who said the girl withdrew from her friends and family and changed noticeably after the alleged incident. She told him she had stopped going out and seeing friends because she was afraid of crowds.
But from text messages obtained from her phone, Wilson's lawyers and advocates said nothing changed for her and that she went out often to party with friends after the night of Sept. 10, 2016, according to the Lawrence Journal-World. She also said she had started taking anti-depressants after the incident, which was later determined to not be true from her text messages.
Douglas County Assistant District Attorney Kate Duncan Butler disputed this, saying in court that just because the girl took photos and was still texting friends does not mean she was not sexually assaulted.
But Spiridigliozzi himself testified last week to say the text messages and photos would have changed his determination about the girl's state of being, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.
He was also shown photos that disputed what the girl said about her mental state that night. She told police and Spiridigliozzi that she was too drunk to walk or remember what happened that night, but video from cameras at the bar and nearby businesses show her walking easily while holding hands with Wilson.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 13, 2019
During the original trial, Wilson said they went back to his apartment and kissed but never had sex. The girl, who said they did have sex, went to the hospital the next morning for a sexual assault exam but doctors could only find Wilson's DNA on her chest, where Wilson admitted he had kissed her.
According to Wilson's new lawyers, his original attorneys should have made this a focal point of the case and should have noted that no pubic hair or other bodily secretions were found on her body.
“The jury rejected one count of rape and a letter was received by the judge and the parties that two of the jurors did not believe there was force or fear and that (the girl) was in fear because of the decisions she made,” Michael Whalen, a new attorney for Wilson, wrote in a 21-page motion for a new trial.
Forrest Lowry, Wilson's original attorney, also testified last week that he, the prosecutor and the judge received a long email from one juror who said she regretted her vote and did not believe Wilson committed sexual assault. Lowry admitted that he ignored much of what was in the text messages during the original trial.
In addition to the problems with Wilson's lawyer, Director of KC Freedom Project Latahra Smith told Fox4 KC that many of the cases of former prosecutor Amy McGowen are being reviewed right now.
“Albert Wilson’s case involves a problematic prosecutor. It’s known, it’s widely known her misconduct — the cases of Amy McGowen. because we know she has a previous history of prosecutorial misconduct in more than one case in Kansas and Missouri. To me, that alone should get Mr. Wilson a new trial,” Smith said.
Wilson will have a bond trial hearing on March 23. If his conviction is upheld, he will be in Hutchinson Correctional Facility until at least May 1, 2029, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
“It has definitely taken a toll on our family. Obviously, we believe in Albert and his innocence. We have had an overwhelming amount of support. I don’t think we could have gotten this far if it wasn’t for people pushing, sharing his story, believing in him. We are very thankful for that,” Wilson’s sister-in-law, Nikki Robinson, told Fox4 KC in November.