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Michigan woman back in court over 2002 sex crime conviction

People are entitled to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. On the other hand, there is a saying that the wheels of justice turn slowly. For one Michigan woman, the wheels have not stopped turning for 12 years.

The woman spent nine years in prison after being convicted in 2002 of committing sex crimes against her adopted son. She later was freed on bond after her son recanted his claims, but that did not end the case. The court did not dismiss the charges against her, but ordered a new trial and allowed her to be free while the case continued to wind its way through the courts.

However, she must wear an electronic tether. Even more importantly, the case remains unresolved, meaning she could be sent back to prison. “There are no words to describe my misery,” she said after the most recent court hearing, which took place on May 14 before the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Prosecutors have continued to pursue the case. Despite the change in the son’s testimony, they continue to insist that the defendant was properly convicted of performing oral sex on her son over a three-year period in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the defendant and her attorneys are trying to get the charges dismissed.

At issue on May 14 was the testimony of a man who was dating the defendant at the time of the alleged assaults. He did not testify at trial, but it later came to light that he told a detective that he knew the defendant did not abuse her son.

It appears this case will not be resolved anytime soon. Both sides vowed to appeal the appellate court’s ruling on the boyfriend’s testimony if they lose.

Most criminal cases do not take as long as this one to end. But when their freedom is at stake, most innocent people would do whatever it takes to mount a criminal defense.

Source: Battle Creek Enquirer, “Swain has another day in court,” Trace Christenson, May 14, 2014

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