Quantcast

Louisiana man to be freed after judge tosses 1971 rape case - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Louisiana man to be freed after judge tosses 1971 rape case

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy MGN Online Courtesy MGN Online

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Louisiana man who has spent nearly 50 years in prison is expected to be released Wednesday, about two weeks after a judge overturned his conviction in the kidnapping and rape of a nurse.
  
Wilbert Jones didn't show any visible reaction when State District Court Judge Richard Anderson set his bail at a mere $2,000. The judge previously said the case against Jones was "weak, at best" and that authorities withheld evidence that could have exonerated Jones decades ago.
  
Jones' family members embraced one another and fought back tears outside the courtroom. Jones' niece Wajeedah Jones said she already knew what her uncle's first request would be.
  
"We will have the gumbo ready for him when he gets out," she said.
  
Prosecutors said they will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the judge's decision, but they do not intend to retry Jones.
  
Jones, now 65, was 19 when police arrested him on suspicion of abducting a nurse at gunpoint from a Baton Rouge hospital's parking lot and raping her behind a building on the night of Oct. 2, 1971. Jones was convicted of aggravated rape at a 1974 retrial and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
  
"The community has changed so much since he was locked up," said prison warden Timothy Hooper, who testified in favor of Jones' release because he said he was a model inmate.
  
The state's case against Jones "rested entirely" on the nurse's testimony and her "questionable identification" of Jones as her assailant, the judge has said. The nurse, who died in 2008, picked Jones out of a police lineup more than three months after the rape. But she also told police that the man who raped her was taller and had a "much rougher" voice than Jones had.
  
Jones' lawyers claim the nurse's description matches a man who was arrested but never charged in the rape of a woman abducted from the parking lot of another Baton Rouge hospital, 27 days after the nurse's attack. The same man also was arrested on suspicion of raping yet another woman in 1973, but was only charged and convicted of armed robbery in that case.
  
Anderson said the evidence shows police knew of the similarities between that man and the nurse's description of her attacker.
  
"Nevertheless, the state failed to provide this information to the defense," he wrote.
  
Prosecutors denied that authorities withheld any relevant evidence about other Baton Rouge rapists.
  
"The state was not obligated to document for the defense every rape or abduction that occurred in Baton Rouge from 1971 to 1974," prosecutors wrote in February.
  
Jones' attorneys from Innocence Project New Orleans describe him as a "highly trusted prisoner and a frail, aging man" who doesn't pose a danger to the community. The late nurse's husband isn't opposed to his release, they wrote in a court filing.
  
"He feels that Mr. Jones has been in prison long enough and that he should be able to get out and spend his remaining years with his family," the lawyers wrote.
  
Jones' attorneys claim that a prosecutor who secured his conviction had a track record of withholding evidence favorable to defendants. A 1974 opinion by a state Supreme Court justice said the prosecutor was responsible for 11 reversed convictions over the preceding year - "an incredible statistic for a single prosecutor," the justices noted.

WEATHER
Power Doppler HD
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Former Cajun, Youngsville police officer Washington dies

    Former Cajun, Youngsville police officer Washington dies

    Thursday, July 19 2018 4:44 PM EDT2018-07-19 20:44:34 GMT
    Youngsville Fire Department FacebookYoungsville Fire Department Facebook

    A former Youngsville Police officer has died while training for a position at Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. 

    A former Youngsville Police officer has died while training for a position at Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. 

  • Two arrested in alleged "dine and dash" incident

    Two arrested in alleged "dine and dash" incident

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 4:07 PM EDT2018-07-18 20:07:55 GMT
    Courtesy Scott Police DepartmentCourtesy Scott Police Department
    Courtesy Scott Police DepartmentCourtesy Scott Police Department
    One day after the Scott Police Department asked for the public's assistance in identifying two people who allegedly left a local restaurant without paying their bill, two women have been arrested.  Scott Police received several phone calls and tips about the identities of the two women, Scott Police Chief Chad Leger said.  Today, Scott Police arrested Markesha Living, 19, and Devona Living, 33, both of Lafayette after they turned themselves in, Leger said.  Both wome...
    One day after the Scott Police Department asked for the public's assistance in identifying two people who allegedly left a local restaurant without paying their bill, two women have been arrested.  Scott Police received several phone calls and tips about the identities of the two women, Scott Police Chief Chad Leger said.  Today, Scott Police arrested Markesha Living, 19, and Devona Living, 33, both of Lafayette after they turned themselves in, Leger said.  Both wome...
  • Homework will no longer be graded in Lafayette Parish

    Homework will no longer be graded in Lafayette Parish

    Thursday, July 19 2018 7:20 PM EDT2018-07-19 23:20:11 GMT
    Image Courtesy MGN OnlineImage Courtesy MGN Online

    Homework will no longer be graded in Lafayette Parish.
     

    Homework will no longer be graded in Lafayette Parish.
     

Powered by Frankly

© KATC.com 2018, KATC.com
A CORDILLERA COMMUNICATIONS Station
Privacy Policy, | Terms of Service, and Ad Choices

Can't find something?