San Jose, CA – Former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who was convicted in 2016 of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, is appealing his convictions and seeking a new trial.
Although he has already served his sentence, he wants his conviction overturned, and with it, the lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender.
Turner was sentenced to six months after he was convicted of sexual assault in March of 2016, but served only three months of that sentence.
A 172-page brief was filed in California’s Sixth District Court of Appeal on Turner’s behalf on Friday, and listed a multitude of reasons why Turner claimed he did not receive a fair trial, Time reported.
Turner first got into trouble on Jan. 18, 2015, when two Stanford graduate students said they witnessed him on top of a half-naked, unconscious woman outside the Kappa Alpha fraternity, The Mercury News reported.
Lars Peter Jonsson, one of the students who interrupted the assault, testified that he noticed the woman was not moving, but that the man on top of her was “thrusting,” The Washington Post reported.
“She didn’t react to my call,” Jonsson testified. “I said, ‘What the f— are you doing? She’s unconscious.'”
The students chased Turner down, pinned him to the ground, and contacted authorities.
The Palo Alto woman, who was 22 years old at the time, remained unconscious for three hours after the assault. Her blood alcohol content was over three times the legal limit, The Mercury News reported.
Turner was a 19-year-old Stanford University freshman when he assaulted the woman, and claimed their encounter was “consensual.”
During the trial, Turner admitted the woman was “very drunk,” but said that she was “no more drunk than anyone else” who attended the fraternity party that night, The Mercury News reported.
He was convicted of sexual assault of an unconscious person, sexual assault of an intoxicated person, and sexual assault with intent to commit rape, The New York Times reported.
Although he faced up to fourteen years in prison, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky went against prosecution’s recommendation of six years in prison, and sentenced Turner to just six months in the county jail, plus three years of probation.
He served only three months of his jail sentence before he was released for “good behavior” on Sep. 2, 2016, The Washington Post reported.
Turner’s lawyer, Eric Multhaup, claimed prosecutors mischaracterized Turner during the trial by repeatedly telling jurors the assault happened “behind the dumpster,” Time reported.
According to the Mercury News, the legal brief explained:
“The prejudicial aspects of this ‘behind-the-dumpster’ characterization were twofold: (1) it implied an intent on the appellant’s part to shield and sequester his activities with Ms. Doe from the view of others; and (2) it implied moral depravity, callousness, and culpability on the appellant’s part because of the inherent connotations of filth, garbage, detritus and criminal activity frequently generally associated with dumpsters...The cumulative effect of this misleading course of conduct deprived appellant of a fair trial.”
The brief further argued that character witnesses who would have testified about Turner’s athletic and academic accomplishments, as well as his history of honesty, were unfairly excluded from trial testimony, The New York Times reported.
Over a third of the brief focused on the victim’s level of intoxication during the attack.
It also claims the prosecution failed "to present constitutionally sufficient evidence" to support conviction on all three counts, CNN reported.
"What we are saying [is] that what happened is not a crime," Turner’s legal advisor, John Tompkins told KNTV. "It happened, but it was not anywhere close to a crime."
Tompkins said the jury should have been allowed to consider a lesser offense.
Stanford law professor Michele Dauber told KNTV she is not surprised by the appeal, but that she believes Turner’s convictions will stand.
"The jury considered Mr. Turner's victim-blaming arguments and decisively rejected them," Dauber said. "The jury rejected those facts. It's not appropriate for the court of appeals to step in and retry those facts."
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen agreed.
“His conviction will be upheld,” he told The Washington Post. “Nothing can ever roll back Emily Doe’s legacy of raising the world’s awareness about sexual assault,” he said, using the name the victim was referred to throughout the trial.
The Mercury News reported that if the Sixth District Court of Appeal grants Turner’s request to reverse his convictions, the case would be retried in Santa Clara County, and overseen by a different judge.
It's considered a risky move for the former swimmer because there would be enormous pressure to give him a longer sentence in state prison were he to be convicted a second time.
Who thinks that he should get his new trial and risk an acquittal for a chance at a longer sentence? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.