On September 13, 2012, a recent Haitian immigrant called 911 for help. In a panic, through his broken English, he explained that his girlfriend's 9-year old son had just accused him of rape. Law enforcement responded to his call for help by showing up and arresting him.
Believing that he now lived in a great country with many protections and resources, he mistakenly thought law enforcement would help him to clear his name and to prove that the child's accusation was false. Instead, they charged him with the crime of Capital Sexual Battery.
The next day he appeared before a judge and the court ruled he was to be held in jail without bond.
On October 12, 2012, he again appeared before another judge seeking a bond. Again the judge also found that the proof of guilt against him was evident and the presumption that he committed this crime was great, and once more denied him a bond. He remained in jail.
On November 7, 2012, he asked the court to reconsider granting him a bond. However, the court again found proof evident and presumption great and denied him the ability to defend himself from outside of a jail cell.
Flabbergasted and at a loss, the man's family and friends finally rallied behind him and in January of 2013 retained my firm Mazin Law.
I began investigating the case and taking depositions. At deposition, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) provided sworn testimony that despite numerous DNA swabs being collected from the child, my client, the room the rape had allegedly occurred in, and items law enforcement believed could be associated with the rape, there were no matches.
Despite the fact that the doctor who forensically examined the child made a finding that the examination results were "not inconsistent with a sexual battery," the doctor admitted never actually having found any relevant injuries. He did find dried fluid on the child's leg, but FDLE concluded that it was non-biological in nature (it was probably dirt).
We filed a new motion for reconsideration of bond, and in May of 2013, the client was finally allowed to bond out of jail.
This case was litigated feverishly over the course of the next 3 years. Essentially every defense motion was denied and every state motion was granted. In laymen's terms, the deck was stacked against my client.
On May 16, 2016, a jury of my client's peers were sworn in and trial began. Due to how the rules of evidence are written and the rulings of the court in this case, this jury would never be allowed to hear that the child had previously accused another one of his mother’s boyfriend's of rape. This jury would never be allowed to hear the detective's 3-hour, aggressive interrogation of my client, where my client swore up and down he hadn't touched the child and HE was the one who pleaded with law enforcement to take DNA swabs of him and test everything. Meanwhile, they would see a video of the gentle questioning of the child, wearing his little hoodie sweatshirt in the setting of a juvenile playroom, telling his story of rape. The person who conducts this child's interview is employed by the Child Protection Team (CPT). They characterize these interviews as "forensic interviews." Mainly because the child is "qualified" to tell the truth. But what the jury doesn't hear or understand (until a competent defense attorney elicits it for them during cross examination) is that despite the "forensic" name and despite the elaborate training of the CPT member, qualifying the child consists of asking what color a pen is and asking him what would happen to him if he lied about its color. This is not an exaggeration nor a joke. This is how CPT "qualifies" a child.
This jury would also be allowed to hear from multiple witnesses reciting what the child had told them happened. (Normally this is considered hearsay and inadmissible, but because this is a child 'victim' the rules of evidence allow this). A parade of video and witnesses burning the child's story into the mind of jurors over and over again.
My client had called upon law enforcement for help. Help him they did; they made him a defendant in a Capital Sexual Battery trial facing a MANDATORY life sentence; and in that trial, despite my client having begged law enforcement to test him for DNA, the prosecution didn't even intend to have the Jury hear the results of those tests.
Nay, the prosecution did not call as a witness the FDLE analyst. Instead, the prosecution would rather the jury hear that testing had been done and just make an assumption that tests came back indicating the Defendant had committed the crime. Why else would the defendant be here otherwise, right? In fact, to further this illusion, the prosecutors fought hard to prevent me from allowing the jury to hear that the defendant "cooperated" or that HE was the one who asked for the DNA testing to be done. No warrants necessary, just the begging of the man who called 911.
My client believed in this great country and thought he was calling for help. However, the State of Florida was failing him. In an instant, the ideals of a great nation were shattered. Law enforcement cared not what my client had to say (the more he denied the allegations, the more aggressively they would accuse him. During that three-hour interrogation - they lied to him saying they had evidence, they tried tricking him by telling him if he just admitted to the crime, that the child's mother didn't want to seek prosecution but just wanted him to get him help - and they even resorted to having him put his hand on a bible and threatened him with lying to God). Law enforcement cared not that the medical and forensic evidence was inconsistent with the allegations made. They failed him. Making the situation more precarious for my client, the prosecution now didn't even want the jury to hear about the exculpatory evidence, the inconsistent evidence or lack of evidence that permeated this case and objected vigorously to its inclusion at ever turn. It appeared this great country was epically failing my client after his call upon it for help.
But it wasn't. America doesn't fail people. Because while law enforcement, prosecutors, and the great State of Florida refused to help my client; help was coming. Our country doesn't only provide law enforcement; we also provide the constitutional right to an attorney and a jury.
Help was long overdue and inexcusably delayed, but my client received it. He got Lyle B. Mazin, Esq. and a jury.
I fought tooth and nail to let this jury hear the facts they needed to hear. While the prosecutors didn't call the FDLE expert as a witness in their case and chief, I surely did in mine. Further, law enforcement's investigation never led them to a critical witness that had information that the child had admitted to lying about details of the rape. I found that witness through our investigation. However, while her information was known to the prosecution (I had previously called this witness to give sworn testimony during a pre-trial hearing), the prosecutors again did not call this witness in their case and chief. However, I sure as hell did in mine.
After 7 months in jail, 3 and 1/2 years of litigation and 4 days of trial, help arrived. This constitutionally-guaranteed lawyer fought and then that constitutionally-guaranteed jury spoke: "Not Guilty, so say we all."