The legal team’s efforts resulted in a Feb. 10 ruling by Judge Designate Jane Marum Roush, who vacated Coker’s convictions and ordered his name removed from the state’s Sex Offender Registry.
REGISTRY ISN’T AUTOMATIC FOR TEENS
However, if they are 13 or older at the time of the offense, a judge can consider it if the local prosecutor makes a motion to request it.
In making the determination, judges are to consider all of the following factors relevant to the case:
- whether the act was committed with the use of force, threat or intimidation;
- the age and maturity of the complaining witness;
- the age and maturity of the offender;
- the difference in the ages of the complaining witness and the offender;
- the nature of the relationship between the complaining witness and the offender;
- the offender’s prior criminal history;
- and other
aggravating or mitigating factors relevant to the case.
LEGAL HURDLES LEADING UP TO REMOVAL OF COKER’S NAME FROM THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY
JUNE 4, 2007—Encounter between girl, 14, and Edgar Coker, 15, at her
JUNE 7, 2007—Coker is charged with rape, abduction, and breaking and entering with the intent to commit rape.
JUNE 18, 2007—
JUNE 28, 2007—Defense attorney Denise Rafferty of
AUG. 22, 2007—Coker pleads guilty to rape and breaking-and-entering charges in exchange for having the abduction charge dropped and keeping the case in juvenile court.
AUG. 30, 2007—Initial hearing in juvenile court on requiring Coker to register as a sex offender.
SEPT. 19, 2007—Juvenile court judge orders Coker committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice for an indeterminate and lifetime registry as a sex offender.
NOV. 19, 2007—Coker’s commitment is finalized.
NOV. 23, 2007—Girl tells her mother she made up the rape allegation to avoid getting into trouble. Her mother then begins trying to rectify the situation.
FEB. 28, 2008—Coker asks the juvenile court to have his verdict set aside because of the recantation.
MARCH 19, 2008—Rafferty, the girl and her mother appear in juvenile court on motion to set aside his verdict. Judge denies it, saying it was untimely.
JULY 23, 2008—Juvenile court judge denies motion of retained attorney Joseph Brown to find error in fact in Coker’s case due to the recantation.
SEPT. 19, 2008—
JANUARY 2009—The Innocence Project at the
JAN. 22, 2009—Innocence Project Director Deirdre Enright and JustChildren Legal Director Andrew K. Block Jr. send letter to the Department of Juvenile Justice asking for Coker’s release.
FEB. 25, 2009—Coker is released from a Department of Juvenile Justice facility and placed on probation. He must register with Virginia State Police for the Sex Offender Registry within three days.
AUG. 18, 2009—Coker’s legal team files petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Stafford Circuit Court.
DEC. 18, 2010—Stafford Circuit Judge Charles Sharp dismisses Coker’s petition, ruling he has no jurisdiction since Coker is no longer in custody.
MARCH 2, 2012—Virginia Supreme Court overturns Judge Sharp’s ruling and remands the case to Stafford Circuit Court.
AUG. 29, 2012—Fairfax Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush is designated as presiding judge after all Stafford Circuit judges recuse themselves.
FEB. 25, 2013—Judge Roush agrees to hear Coker’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus and schedules a two-day -hearing to address whether Rafferty violated Coker’s right to effective counsel.
JULY 16–17, 2013—Roush holds hearing in Stafford Circuit Court.
FEB. 10, 2014—Roush grants Coker’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, ruling that Rafferty provided ineffective counsel. Roush vacates Coker’s convictions, orders his name removed from the Virginia Sex Offender Registry and gives both sides 21 days to file written objections to the ruling. She gives
MARCH 3, 2014—Deadline for attorneys to file any response to Roush’s ruling.
APRIL 11, 2014—Deadline for
Edgar Coker’s family struggled to understand and keep up with the requirements of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry.
Here are the regulations outlined by the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act:
His initial registration with the Virginia State Police was required upon conviction. He then had to re-register within three days of his release from the juvenile correction facility in
He also had to provide email address information; any instant message, chat or other Internet communication name or identity he used or intended to use; have his fingerprints and palm prints taken; provide information regarding his place of employment; provide registration for any vehicle had he owned one.
Registration information includes: name, all aliases—including his childhood nicknames—date and locality of the conviction, fingerprints, photo, date of birth, Social Security Number, physical and mailing address, and description of the offenses for which he was convicted.
The online registry also includes a field indicating whether the crime was violent. In Coker’s case, he was listed as a violent offender. It also shows his victim as a minor but doesn’t indicate that he was also a minor.
He also was required to re-register with local law enforcement:
- within three days any time he moved within the state;
- within three days any time he switched his place of employment;
- within three days any time he changed the status of any vehicle;
- within 30 minutes of any change of email address or identity information for instant messaging, chatting or other Internet communication.
He also was required to be photographed in color every two years by local law enforcement for relay to state police.
Had he enrolled in post-secondary education or training or gotten a job at an institution of higher learning, he would have had to indicate that on his registration and then notify the institution’s law enforcement or local police within three days if his status changed.
FAILING TO COMPLY
Any person convicted of a sexually violent offense who knowingly fails to register or re-register, or knowingly provides materially false information to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry is guilty of a Class 6 felony. A second or subsequent conviction for an offense under this subsection is a Class 5 felony.
The punishment for a Class 6 felony is up to five years in prison. The penalty for a Class 5 felony is up to 10 years in prison.