Wednesday, November 11, 2009

San Diego prosecutor withheld evidence favorable to defense of 3 men charged with raped

San Diego prosecutor suspected of withholding evidence in rape case
CBS News 8
Posted: Nov 10, 2009

A San Diego prosecutor is under investigation, suspected of withholding evidence in a high-profile rape case. The case resulted in plea bargain last month and the rapists walked free.

Now, the mother of the victim is ... accusing the San Diego District attorney’s office of a cover up.

It was a brutal case of rape by intoxication in San Marcos. Three north county men accused of kidnapping a Palomar College student in May of 2008, getting her drunk and gang raping her.

News 8 has learned [prosecutor Dan] Rodriguez is now the subject of an ongoing disciplinary investigation. He’s accused of withholding evidence in the case.
Initially Rodriguez told the mother of the 18-year-old rape victim that all three defendants were facing serious prison time.

“We were told they were looking at -- with kidnapping and rape charges -- they would be looking at 20 years to life,” said Tammie Heintzman. She said Rodriguez assured her the case as solid...

From the beginning, the case was high profile. The victim had met one of her attackers on the MySpace web site... At the last minute, a new prosecutor was assigned to the case and soon thereafter the District Attorney’s office reached a plea bargain with all three defendants.

Two pleaded guilty to rape by intoxication, the third to felony assault. All three walked free after serving just 8 months in jail.

It wasn't until later that Heintzman, the mother of the victim, says she finally found out why the original prosecutor, Dan Rodriguez, was taken off the case.
“It was shared that Dan had been suspended and it was related to the case, and it was related to misrepresenting evidence,” Heintzman told News 8.
The evidence withheld was favorable to the defense.

All three defense attorneys involved in the case confirmed to News 8 that prosecutor Dan Rodriguez failed to turn over in a timely manner what they called highly exculpatory evidence, including a tape recorded police interview with the victim and statements the teenager made during a medical exam...
The new prosecutor, Kate Flaherty, quickly offered the defendants a plea deal.

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