Thursday, December 5, 2013
Murky facts lead to clear decision
By Lester Munson
Three key factors led a Florida state attorney to conclude that he could not file a sexual assault charge against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston.
Major lapses in the accuser's memory, her level of intoxication at the time of the incident and the presence of DNA from two different men in the woman's rape kit were the main reasons the state decided not to charge the Heisman Trophy favorite, State Attorney Willie Meggs said during a news conference Thursday.
To prove such a case, a prosecutor must be able to show a jury a convincing narrative of what happened. If the accuser cannot remember parts of the story, the prosecutor must have other witnesses who can provide the material. It was clear in Meggs' explanation that the other witnesses whom his staff interviewed did not plug the gaps in the accuser's story.
Several times during his news conference, Meggs referred to her memory gaps about what happened on Dec. 7, 2012. "She was not sure about a lot of things," Meggs said.
Although Meggs refused to speculate why, he did point to an analysis of a blood-alcohol test taken several hours after the alleged attack that showed that her blood-alcohol content at the time of the incident could have been 0.10 percent, even though when it was taken the test registered a 0.04 reading. The 0.10 reading would have been higher than the 0.08 legal limit for driving.
The clear implication of Meggs' use of the extrapolated blood alcohol levels was to show that the accuser may have been in the brownout or blackout stage of intoxication, a probable cause of the memory gaps.
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