Appeals court throws out Oakland rape case over prosecutor’s failure to turn over key police report

A California appeals court has overturned the convictions of a man who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for raping a girl he knew, writing in their decisions that prosecutors failed to turn over a key police report that could have led to a different verdict, and the courts failed to correct the error.

Brandon Stewart was convicted of raping a girl in her mid-teens, a crime that alleged took place when he was 19. In 2018, a jury found him guilty of forcible sexual penetration of a minor 14 or older, guilty of forcible rape of a minor 14 or older, but acquitted him of sodomy.

The 43-page appeals court decision, issued this month, says Alameda prosecutors failed to alert defense attorneys to the existence of a police report that contained material the defense could have used to discredit an important witness. The prosecution alerted defense attorneys to the existence of the report, but did not go far enough, the First District Appellate Court ruled.

“Because the People were aware of the contents of the police report and its potential value to impeach a key prosecution witness, they should have disclosed that the report in fact contained potential impeachment material,” the decision says. “Without that information, the defense could not assess the usefulness of the police report.”

During trial, prosecutors relied on testimony from two girls, known as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2. Stewart was convicted of raping Doe 1, but the testimony of Doe 2 was “crucial” in affirming Doe 1’s credibility to the jury, the appeals court decision says. The report contained information that could have contradicted Doe’s allegations that Stewart had committed similar sexual assaults against her.

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The appeals court also ruled that an Alameda judge erred by failing to grant a new trial for Stewart over the failed disclosure, and that a juvenile judge was wrong to prevent the defense from accessing the report.

“We have concluded that if the OPD report and CPS reports had been available to the defense, there was a reasonable chance the jury would have reached a different result,” the appeals court judges wrote in their decision.

A spokeswoman with the Alameda County District Attorney declined to comment on the decision, nor did she say whether prosecutors have decided to re-try Stewart.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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