WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY


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Sexual assault trial, without the victim, who died in recent car wreck, moves ahead in Lincoln County Circuit Court

Thomas Acosta
Jury selection underway

April Loper, alleged rape victim
Killed in car accident last October

Much to the relief of April Loper’s family, the trial of her alleged rapist has begun in Lincoln County Circuit Court. The case has drawn widespread interest in that the rape allegations, among other alleged crimes, was derailed when April Loper, of Toledo, died in a car accident, along with her father, near Eddyville last October. Under American criminal law, anyone charged with a crime has the right to confront their accuser in court. Otherwise the case is dismissed except under very specific circumstances. And Lincoln County District Attorney Rob Bovett obviously has found at least one of those circumstances. Since the case is pending Bovett doesn’t offer any comment, leaving the revelation to emerge as a matter of course during the trial.

As has been explained by others knowledgeable about this area of criminal law, if the accuser cannot be located or has died before a trial can begin, it means the person, on whose behalf the charges are filed, won’t be in court to participate in the trial. And even though the accuser may have earlier told others of the details of how the accused criminal committed a crime, the courts have ruled that such third-party exchanges are not admissible as evidence required for a conviction. They call it hearsay.

That’s how the situation was described to April Loper’s family last month. Family members told News Lincoln County it was conveyed to them that without admissible evidence, April’s accused attacker Thomas Acosta, probably wouldn’t stand trial and he’d be set free.

Then on December 10th, in a dramatic turn-around of events, Judge Charles Littlehales ordered Acosta to remain in jail after the DA’s office requested more time to re-examine and re-describe the nature of the evidence to the court. Today, over a month later, armed with what may the evidence the DA needs, Acosta’s trial officially began with jury selection which is expected to run through Wednesday. The trial itself would proceed immediately thereafter.

 

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