Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Edgar Coker Jr: Judge Orders Former Stafford Teen’s Name Removed from Sex Offender Registry, Vacates Sentence


Exactly what I said in yesterday’s post! 
Louisa man falsely convicted of rape is exonerated with UVa legal team's help, February 11, 2014
Dierdre Enright, director of investigation for the Innocence Project Clinic, criticized the lower level courts, which she said “refused to acknowledge the merits” of the case despite the fact that the alleged victim had recanted.
“There are very few people who could have afforded to litigate this case for six years, which emphasizes the importance of law school clinics and organizations that represent clients for free,” Enright said in a news release from the law school.

Original Post:

For 7 years an innocent Virginia juvenile has languished on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry as a Violent Offender. No college would accept him because of the label and his parents had to move numerous times because of issues and threats from neighbors, all because of the VSP posting. 

On December 6, 2011 Edgar’s mother Cherri Dulaney spoke to the Virginia Crime Commission about her son Edgar Coker Jr.’s life on the Virginia Registry after a false accusation of rape. 

Only because the UVA Innocence Project stepped up to help Edgar did he finally receive justice 7 years later. 

Per the below article, yesterday the judge ruled that Edgar should be removed from the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. The VSP Posting may be coming down but a Google search will forever bring up his Sex Offender information for colleges, landlords and employers to find on independent and private websites.

This happy ending is just a dream for others who are falsely accused of sexual crimes in Virginia because without DNA evidence they can not get a second trial and the Innocence Project usually refuses to assist. Also because of Virginia’s archaic 21 Day to Recant Rule.

Once the lie had been discovered Virginia should have a process to grant an exoneration and removal from the Registry, but no it took a team of UVA attorneys 5 years with a claim of a bad defense to finally get justice for Edgar. Most Virginians can’t afford one cheap/satisfactory attorney for a 6 month period, let alone a 5 year challenge!

Congratulations to Edgar and his family! 
God Bless.

Judge orders former Stafford teen’s name removed from sex offender registry, vacates sentence By Pamela Gould     February 10, 2014

Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush today ordered former Stafford County teen Edgar Coker’s name be removed from the state’s Sex Offender Registry.

She also vacated his 2007 convictions for rape and breaking and entering and gave Stafford Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen 60 days to decide whether he wants to retry the case.

Coker was 15 years old when he was accused of breaking into a neighbor’s home in Aquia Harbour and sexually assaulting a then-14-year-old girl.

He was charged with rape, abduction and breaking and entering after the June 4, 2007, incident. On the advice of his court-appointed attorney, he pleaded guilty in Stafford County juvenile court to the rape and break-in charges to avoid being prosecuted in adult court, which then-Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Olsen had threatened.

But two months after Coker was sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice for an indeterminate term, Michele Sousa said her daughter told her she had lied to avoid getting into trouble. The girl said she and Coker were friends, she had invited him into the house and the sex was consensual.

Since then, Sousa had worked to rectify what she considered an injustice.

Since January 2009, a team of attorneys with the Innocence Project at the University of Virginia law school, the law school’s Child Advocacy Clinic and Just Children/Legal Aid of Charlottesville has been working to clear Coker’s name.

Coker’s team filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Stafford Circuit Court in August 2009, alleging he received ineffective assistance of counsel from court-appointed attorney Denise Rafferty, in violation of his constitutional rights.

He had a two-day hearing in Stafford Circuit Court before Roush last July. The goal was to get the conviction set aside and to get his name removed from the state’s sex offender registry, both of which Roush granted today as she ruled he had received ineffective assistance of counsel.

Coker’s family has moved repeatedly since his release from the Department of Juvenile Justice because of harassment by neighbors. And, because of his status, Coker was briefly detained in Orange County for trying to attend a football game at his alma mater.

Coker’s lawsuit was filed against the Department of Juvenile Justice because he was in its custody.

Earlier Articles on Coker Case: 

Edgar Coker begins his wait for judge’s ruling in rape recantation case, July 18, 2013
A ruling may be months away

Attorney defends handling of rape case, July 16, 2013

Virginia Supreme Court Hands Victory to Wrongfully Convicted Man Aided by UVA Law Clinics, March 2, 2012

Innocence Is No Defense Against Virginia's Sex Offender Registry, November 28, 2011

Va. family still suffers effects of guilty plea to false charge, November 26, 2011

Registered Sex Offender Arrested at High School Football Game, October 18, 2011