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Judge orders new trial for Albert Wilson

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 11:48 AM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KWCH/AP) - A Douglas County District Court judge ordered a new trial in the case of Albert Wilson. Wilson has been serving a 12-year sentence for a 2019 rape conviction.

On Tuesday, a judge found that Wilson’s trial attorney failed to review hundreds of text messages from his 17-year-old accuser whom he met at a popular bar near the University of Kansas campus. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Douglas County Judge Sally Pokorny said she will soon order Albert Wilson transferred from a prison in Hutchinson back to the Douglas County Jail for a new bond hearing and the setting of a new trial.

Following Tuesday’s hearing, Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez issued the following statement:

“This morning, the Honorable Sally D. Pokorny, District Judge, issued her ruling in State of Kansas v. Albert N. Wilson. In short, Judge Pokorny ruled that during the trial proceedings in this matter, Mr. Wilson was denied his right to effective assistance of counsel. As a result, Mr. Wilson entitled to anew trial.

“Though I have followed this case, all evidentiary proceedings and briefing were completed before I assumed the office of District Attorney. I and Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden shall review the Court’s most recent ruling, as well as all other relevant materials in this case.”

“As in all cases, the Office remains committee to pursing equal and equitable justice for all affected parties.”

Wilson has maintained his innocence throughout the case. The next hearing is set for March 23.

Eyewitness News spoke with Wilson’s legal team Tuesday who said the judge’s decision is a huge relief and they’re thankful for a second chance to give Wilson a fair trial. The greenlight for a new trial come more than two years after Wilson’s conviction.

“I though we had as good a case as you could for ineffective assistance of counsel, so I thought if the judge paid close attention to what we presented, which she did, we would win,” Attorney Josh Dubin said.

In a two-day hearing in November, Wilson’s new legal team argued he was denied his sixth amendment right to effective counsel.

“I’ve done hundreds of ineffective claims on appeal and I’ve handled 40-plus in district court. This case had the strongest evidence I’ve ever seen,” Attorney Michael Whalen said.

Tuesday, the judge agreed in part with Wilson’s attorneys, staring, “It is my belief that if a jury knew of the information contained in the 2,000 text messages taken from the victim’s phone, there is a substantial likelihood the outcome of this case would have been different.”

In 2019, Wilson’s trial attorney did not present the text messages as evidence to the jury.

“To have the evidence in your possession as his lawyer did and not to exploit it both with the alleged victim and the expert in the case was very difficult to get past,” Whalen said. “It is your professional obligation to be as thorough as humanly possible, and that begins with reviewing all the evidence, which didn’t happen here. So I think the judge got that and we are grateful that she did, so now we are on to the next stage of this which is exonerating him fully at a fair trial with all of the evidence.”

Tuesday night, Wilson’s family also issued a statement saying they are “overwhelmed with joy for Albert.”

“His conviction has been devastating to our family and we are happy the judge has given him the opportunity to have a fair trial,” the family said.

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