Society

Wrongfully Convicted Man Found Dead In Prison Cell

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Prison CellsPrison Cells

An inmate in a Maryland prison was found beaten to death in his cell only four days before an appeals court  tossed out all charges against him and overturned the conviction.

Roger Largent, 69, was found guilty for an alleged 2015 sexual assault of a mentally disabled woman. Allegedly, Largent arrived at the woman's house to give her and her blind husband a ride to the doctor's office. According to the victim's testimony, shortly after arriving, Largent covered her mouth and raped her while her husband was still upstairs.

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"If I screamed or said anything, he would kill me," the victim said in her testimony.

During police questioning, Largent initially denied having sexual intercourse with the woman. After a detective said his DNA was found on the victim, he changed his answer, saying the two had sex, but it was consensual.

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The investigator acknowledged that he lied to Largent during the interview -- his DNA was not found on the victim. A Supreme Court ruling allows police to lie to suspects during questioning.

During the trial, Ashley Hall, the nurse who examined the victim, maintained that it was possible the woman was raped, despite having no bruises, scratches or other signs that would indicate force.

Largent was sentenced to 18 years in prison for a second-degree rape conviction. His defense lawyers still maintain the intercourse was consensual and that the jury should not have taken Hall's opinion as expert testimony. She had little trial experience and had only recently completed training.

But Largent didn't live to see another day in court. He was found dead in his cell Feb. 11, a little after 8 p.m., according to The Baltimore Sun. Police would not release information on how he was killed, but say another inmate is suspected of committing murder and that charges are pending.

Four days later, an appeals court overturned Largent's conviction and pushed for a retrial of the case, reports The Herald-Mail. 

"The trial court abused its discretion in permitting [the nurse] to offer her lay opinion testimony that an adult female body can permit nonconsensual intercourse and yet leave no physical injuries, as [the nurse] relied on scientific and medical training beyond the understanding of the average juror when offering her testimony," read the appellate court's final opinion.

Largent's defense lawyer, Amy Taylor, was shocked to hear about her client's death, according to The Associated Press, and was disappointed her client would not be able to face a new jury.

"I thought it had a good chance of being reversed," she said. "We were right, and he was going to get this fair trial and now he’s been deprived of that opportunity."

The prosecution maintains Largent is guilty. 

"Roger Largent was where he belonged at the time of his death," said Deputy State's Attorney Gina Cirincion.

Sources: AP via New York Post, The Herald-Mail, The Baltimore Sun / Photo credit: miss_millions/Flickr