A Michigan man who was wrongfully convicted of rape has received $817,351 in compensation from the state. Quentin Carter was 16 when he was charged in September 1991 with raping a 10-year-old girl in Grand Rapids.
The girl’s mother waited ten days to report the incident to the police. By then no biological evidence existed, but the victim exhibited severe injuries from a beating. Her mother’s boyfriend, Aurelias Marshall, stated during question that he beat the girl with an extension cord to get her to identify her attackers. Marshall subsequently pleaded guilty to first-degree child abuse and was sentenced to prison.
The girl told police that three males, including Carter, dragged her off her porch and raped her. At trial, she testified that Carter held her down while others assaulted her, then he raped her too. A jury convicted Carter in February 1992 and he was sentenced to six to 20 years in prison; he served 17 because he refused to admit his guilt.
In 2014, the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office reopened a case involving the June 11, 1990 murder of Joel Battaglia, in which Marshall was a suspect. During the investigation, the victim in Carter’s case, who was then in her 30s, was questioned. She told investigators that Marshall and not Carter had raped her, and that Marshall beat her until she agreed to falsely accuse Carter along with two fictional accomplices. Carter, she said, was chosen at random when his name was found on a piece of paper in the garbage outside her home. Investigators believe Marshall singled out Carter because he owed Marshall for an unpaid drug debt.
The victim told police she was sexually assaulted by her stepfather at age seven – he was convicted and imprisoned – and at age 13 by a relative who was removed from the home. In a media interview, the girl said she spent much of her time locked in her room as her mother and various boyfriends smoked crack. She also stated that on two occasions she went to the prosecutor’s office to tell them she had lied at Carter’s trial, but no one believed her.
On June 8, 2015, a jury convicted Marshall, 56, of murdering Battaglia. Following the conviction, the prosecutor’s office disclosed that Marshall was the rapist in Carter’s case, and Carter was innocent.
“After becoming aware of the evidence that potentially exonerated Mr. Carter, both the detectives and the assigned prosecutors spent countless hours reinvestigating the case against him,” said Prosecuting Attorney William Forsyth.
Carter’s conviction was vacated on June 25, 2015. During a hearing before Court of Appeals Chief Judge Michael Talbot in September 2017, Carter was awarded $817,351 under a state law that provides for $50,000 per year of incarceration for people who are wrongfully convicted.
Carter has forgiven the victim. “You can’t be bitter,” he said. “You got to move on with your life.”
Sources: www.mlive.com, www.law.umich.edu, www.woodtv.com
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