New trial ordered for high profile Innsbrook rape case - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

New trial ordered for high profile Innsbrook rape case

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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

A Henrico Circuit Court judge threw out the convictions in a high-profile rape case Wednesday, ordering a new trial because of evidence withheld from the defense.

A jury originally recommended that Driton Sulejmani, 25, serve 15 years behind bars. But on the day originally set for formal sentencing, Judge Gary A. Hicks said prosecutors did not provide defense attorneys with all prior inconsistent statements from the victim.

Sulejmani's new defense lawyers, Steven D. Benjamin and Betty Layne DesPortes, argued that the statements were improperly withheld. The defense team said in a motion that the statements could have been introduced as favorable evidence for Sulejmani's case.

Hicks ruled in Sulejmani's favor Wednesday, setting a July 30 hearing to decide on a new trial date.

Jurors convicted Sulejmani of rape and sodomy this past February, after a two day trial and two hours of deliberations. Henrico police arrested Sulejmani in July 2013 for attacking and raping a woman at the Shoppes at Innsbrook, feet away from a crowded bar.

"We are committed to seeing justice served," said Henrico Commonwealth's attorney Shannon Taylor in a written statement Wednesday. "And if it means trying the case again we will."

Sulejmani testified at trial that the events of the night were consensual, rather than a series of violent acts. But the victim painted a far different picture, saying Sulejmani offered to walk her back to her car, and the night took a terrible turn when he pushed her into nearby bushes.

The victim testified that Sulejmani slammed her head into a brick wall, then sodomized and raped her.

Sulejmani remains in a Henrico County jail, with Benjamin and DesPortes staying on as council at least through the July 30 hearing.

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