July 20, 2015
Mark Weiner spent two and a half years in prison (of an eight-year sentence) for abduction with the intent to sexually harm, he was convicted solely on the testimony of the alleged abductee despite a wealth of exculpatory evidence that the prosecutor tried her best to hide, dismiss and destroy:
Deirdre Enright, director of investigation for the University of Virginia School of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic (disclosure: and a friend of mine), notes that this is where the idea of justice got confused with the promise of winning. As she says, “Lunsford appears to have learned in the middle of her case against Mark that the ‘victim’s’ cell phone tower records contradicted the victim’s version of events, and corroborated the defendant’s. Leaving aside the fact that a competent prosecutor is not learning the underlying facts of her case mid-trial, this was the kind of exculpatory evidence that would cause a fair prosecutor, honoring her obligation to seek and serve justice, to dismiss the charge. Instead, she successfully argued against their admissibility in court. In the wrongful conviction world, the nicest description we have for this phenomenon is ‘tunnel vision.’ ”
Perhaps the most crushing part:
The motion to vacate and the statements made by the prosecutor are not an admission of error, it seems, so much as an admission that public confidence has been eroded in so many tiny increments in this case that Weiner should walk free. Lunsford referred to the drug sale as “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” suggesting that she knew this camel had been overloaded for a long, long time.
Mark Weiner has lost more than two years with his young son and with his wife, he’s lost his job, he’s lost his family home, and he’s lost every penny he ever had in savings or retirement accounts.