October 26, 2014 (Updated Oct 27, 2014 8:28pm)
Big news here in Newnan, Ga.
After a young mans name and face were plastered all over the news as being accused of raping a young unidentified woman, he has now been convicted of rape. By the way, what makes it ok to publicize a mans identity that has been accused of rape but the accuser goes unidentified? Somethings not right about that. Suppose he was found not guilty? Then you have a guy whose name was already smeared publicly and a woman left still being called a victim. That’s always been a big issue for me, but that’s a topic for another time.
On Friday, Mr Benjamin Gray, was found guilty of rape. This was a very unusual and complex case because it involved a man who was accused of raping a woman while he was sleep walking. You really need to read reporter Clay Neely’s piece here to get some understanding of just how complex this case was.
The jury asked the judge in a hand written note if they could choose a lesser charge by unanimous vote and the state refused. So the jury found Mr Gray guilty of rape anyways. Did a Jury under pressure change their minds to appease the State of Georgia? It sure sounds that way. Now this young man is faced with a 25 year mandatory sentence.
After reading the story printed in the Newnan Times Herald, I cannot help but believe this young man is a victim of a jury that took the easy way out of the court room Friday. Now granted, I was not there and have very little information other than what I’ve seen in the print media and comments I’ve read from those who attended the trial. Still, after seeing the actual note to the Judge, it’s so obvious to me that this jury did not believe there was enough evidence for a rape conviction. It almost seems as though this jury just said “Oh well, the DA wants a conviction of rape so lets give him what he wants no matter what we believe.” Perhaps they were tired and just wanted to go home,and saw the states denial as an opportunity to throw in the towel.
I’m sorry folks, but this is not how the system is supposed to work. This jury is not required to fold into the desires of the prosecution for the sake of a decision. They could have even taken the extreme option of Jury Nullification to prevent the rape conviction. Of course most people are not aware of the right for a jury to make that decision. People need to educate themselves about how our court system works and what rights jurors have. Had I been on that jury there quite possibly would have been a different verdict. Mr Gray would be sitting in the comfort of his home with his wife tonight.
It is clear to me that this jury failed Mr Gray and should be ashamed of themselves. I don’t personally know Mr Gray and I’m not trying to take sides with anyone here. It just really bothers me when a jury seemingly gives in to pressure when a mans life is at stake. This young man is now facing a minimum of 25 years in prison, convicted of raping a woman that stayed silent during the “attack” while his wife lay asleep in the next room.
I hope that Mr Benjamin Gray has a good attorney that will get an appeal and that he gets a fair and honest jury next time. A jury that gives a damn and understands the importance of the service they have been chosen to perform.
The note the jurors wrote to the judge speaks volumes about how they really felt. They did not believe Mr Gray was guilty of rape. They had reasonable doubt. -JRoycroft