By Jim Phillips, Athens News
The attorney for a convicted rapist who’s now serving 30 years in prison claims in a recent appeal filing that her client could have had a plea bargain that gave him just five years – but the lawyer who defended him at trial advised him not to take it.
Why not 5 years?
In a recent application to the 4th District Court of Appeals, asking the court to re-open the appeal of convicted rapist Charles Nguyen, defense attorney Elizabeth Gaba writes that Nguyen has told her that before he went to trial, “there was a plea offer by the state of five years, which trial counsel forcefully persuaded Nguyen to decline.”
Why not 5 years?
Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn has told Gaba he has no written record of such an offer, and he said Tuesday that he doesn’t remember making one.
“I don’t believe we ever got that far along,” Blackburn said.
Nguyen, a physician-in-residence living in New York at the time of the offense, was convicted after a 2010 jury trial in Athens County Common Pleas Court of rape, kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and evidence tampering. He had reportedly met an Athens woman through an online dating service, and after she broke up with him, came to her home, tied her up and raped her.
Nguyen was represented at trial by attorney Derek Farmer, whose missteps during the trial included closing arguments that went on for more than seven hours, and earned him a scolding from the judge. Farmer then filed the initial appeal brief in Nguyen’s case – which he had to edit and re-submit, after the 4th District Court rejected it for being some 30 pages longer than court rules allow.
Read the full story by Jim Phillips from Athens News.