People v. Mpulamasaka, 2016 IL App (2d) 130703 (January 2016). Episode 127 (Duration: 15:34)
This rape is overturned in large part because the State committed and the trial judge allowed gross prosecutorial misconduct.
Defendant and the victim were both married when they met after a night of karaokeing and met with friends at a Denny's restaurant. Later they had intercourse in the back seat of the victim's car.
She sustained a vaginal laceration, bleed heavily, and she drove herself to the hospital.
She testified that defendant forced her to have sex by throwing her legs into the back seat. On cross she conceded that she was holding Defendant's hand at dinner, guided his hand to her thighs, and straddled him when they got in the car. The prosecution insisted she was mentally disabled even though there was no evidence of this.
The prosecution told the jury she only testified that way on cross because she was fooled and taken advantage of by the defense attorney.
The facts in this case are more consistent with a consensual encounter.
The reviewing court reversed the conviction arguing that the prosecution never overcame the strong presumption that this was nothing more than a consensual encounter.
Further, the reviewing court wrote that:
We are reasonably certain that but for the prosecutors’ improper remarks during closing and rebuttal argument the jury’s verdict would have been not guilty.
The reviewing court listed these major points of error:
- The State used evidence admitted for one purpose, ability to consent, to establish the element of force.
- The State knew that it had failed to establish that S.B. was unable to consent and that defendant knew as much, yet argued repeatedly that the jury should consider S.B.’s “disability” on the issue of force in that defendant “manipulated” S.B.
- During its closing and rebuttal arguments, the State made 21 direct references to S.B.’s intellectual limitations.
- The prosecutors used S.B.’s learning disability to confuse the jury on the issue of consent.
- The State depicted defendant as a “predator” who took “a piece of meat” home with him.
- During its rebuttal argument, it argued that Dr. Locker “was at the rent-a-doctor agency sipping a latte” and that he sold his integrity “for three pieces of silver.”
- At the same time, the State misstated their expert's testimony, arguing that “Dr. Holt told you point blank, she didn’t say it’s likely, she said this was as a result of a violent sexual assault, point blank.”
- By arguing repeatedly, with no evidentiary support, that S.B.’s cross-examination answers were not “her own words,” the State violated defendant’s right to confront witnesses.
- The most troubling aspect of the ASA’s conduct was leaving the podium and sitting in the witness chair to argue the victim’s credibility and courage and then discussing defendant’s credibility.
- The State wrapped up its rebuttal with a final appeal to sympathy, calling defendant a “bully” who took advantage of the “weakest amongst us.”
- Overall, the State served only to inflame the passions of the jury.
In this case, rather than introducing evidence to disprove consent, the prosecutors chose to rely on emotion and argue that S.B.’s answers on cross-examination were not her words but were the product of manipulation.