“Few defendents represent themselves in trial, even fewer win their case” – it’s BETTER than accepting ANY deals, many are seeing it’s better to be punished once than for the rest of their lives by a deal!
MANSFIELD — The outcome of the Harry Brown rape trial will be the focus of class discussion for students in The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
The case shocked OSU law professor Deborah Merritt, who said it’s unusual for a defendant to represent himself in court, especially in a criminal case. It’s even more unusual for the defendant to win.
Brown did just that when the jury’s verdict of not guilty on all five felony counts was announced around 2 p.m. Wednesday. Brown received minimal aid from standby defense attorney Andy Hyde.
“It’s certainly remarkable,” Merritt said. “Part of the reason the state offers free counsel is because the stakes are so high and it’s very confusing.
“Often judges will try to talk (defendants) out of (representing themselves).”
Merritt said the state has seen an increasing number of defendants opting to represent themselves, particularly in family law. While the courts are now preparing materials to aid citizens who want to defend themselves, self-representation is not encouraged in criminal trials, she said.
“I don’t think this is a trend, but it does show it’s becoming more common to see people doing this themselves,” Merritt said.
Brown, 54, of 282 S. Main St., was facing two counts of rape, both with repeat violent offender and sexually violent predator specifications, and three counts of gross sexual imposition in connection with a 2011 case involving a 4-year-old girl.
During the trial, the jury heard from several witnesses implicating Brown, including the now 6-year-old girl. They were told by Dawn Fryback, a DNA analyst with the Mansfield Police Department’s crime lab, that Brown’s DNA could not be excluded in 13 of 16 genetic markers found on the inside of the girl’s underwear.
They also heard Brown’s arguments that the investigation was mishandled, evidence that could clear him was not tested, and that he was innocent.
Brown also pointed out the victim could not identify the person who abused her as someone in the courtroom.
“It’s been two years and the alleged victim can’t even identify me,” Brown said. “I didn’t have hair then, I’ve lost 20 pounds, but I’ve always wore glasses.”
Assistant Prosecutor Cliff Murphy attributed the victim’s shaky testimony to the trauma of the trial.
“It’s hard for young children to testify,” Murphy told the jury. “It’s a very traumatic event for them.”
Most of the trial hinged on whether or not the jury believed the victim to have peed the bed or not — Brown’s defense for why her underwear was removed. Holding up the pair of underwear in question, the prosecution asked, “where is the stain?” and “when the bag was opened up, were you overwhelmed with pee?”
Brown consistently argued that not all of the evidence was properly tested, including a set of sheets with a large stain in the middle.
“After two years, you’re not going to smell that pee, but the stain was there,” Brown said, referring to the stained sheets submitted as evidence, but never tested. “The only thing I’m asking you to do is give me some justice, some real justice,” Brown told the jury. “I want you to say, ‘hey, he has a valid point. Why wasn’t this tested?’ ”
Murphy declined comment.
“I don’t think anybody got on that stand and definitively said he did that,” Brown said, speaking to the jury in his closing statement. “When you guys go back there, will you please, please, please take that into consideration?”
Three hours later, the jury concluded there was not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to tie Brown to the crimes.
“I’m impressed how he handled it,” Hyde said of Brown’s self-representation. “I’m thankful the jury appeared to do the right thing based on facts.”
Brown acknowledged his path was unorthodox, but clearly effective.
“My representation hasn’t been pretty; I didn’t come with experts,” Brown told the jury, thanking them for their patience. “What I do know is I didn’t do anything.”
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My favorites with my perspective in red! – censored from their site…
Bob Baker · Top CommenterAssistant Prosecutor Cliff Murphy declined comment. He was as speechless as I am now. He is probably thinking,”all that money and all that time spent at law school…wasted.” – I bet many inspiring attorney’s are thinking the very same thing – better stick to politics like most do…
Peggy Goldberg · Top Commenter · Ships Captain at Maersk Line Shipping Companythen let the slum lizard himself explain how is dna ended up in her underwear? That’s should have been enough to convict for at least a lesser charge. When he does it the next time someone needs to put him out of everyones misery. – I highly doubt there will be a “next time”, surely he’s learned going through this how he can get away with it again, IF that’s what he did. Just because there’s “DNA” does not mean there was a rape, I think the Country as a whole has learned a lot from the Bill Clinton DNA that didn’t get his accuser what she wanted. There’s a lot of abuse going on with the system by women today, and when there’s reasonable doubt by a jury people like you cry foul! I suppose you would rather be judged by one or two in a deal when your not guilty than taking your chances on the truth? – Miss Peggy, I think you’re nuts!
Val Gayheart Kuenkele · Top Commenter · AshlandSickens me….hopefully the jurors children never encounter Brown. – You can also say hopefully the jurors children never encounter a vindictive accuser with an agenda to ruin ones life! I was not a juror in this case, but one can only believe in the system as it was designed, surely you would not have been happy with a deal either? One can appreciate another who defends themselves, he took a chance and won – this is a VICTORY for everyone who’s been RAILROADED into prison because of fear of taking this to trial, most Attorney’s here can’t do what this man did! This is BAD NEWS for any of them this day forward who want to PLAY – “let’s make a deal” – Hopefully we will see MORE whether they represent themselves or not to take their chances on a trial, which is usually far better than ANY DEAL!
Toni Wyatt · Top Commenter · NCSCWow unbelievable!!! He says the stain on her underwear was pee but they found his DNA on them!!! Forensics had a 13 out 16 that should have convicted him right off. I’ve seen cases with way less evidence and it gets a conviction. Just can’t wrap my head around this and jurors verdict!!!! -Why is that? – because many who get a lawyer in this town take deals because lawyers here don’t like trials, it’s a win win for them, besides it’s good for their egos when both sides technically don’t lose. The ONLY losers are those who make deals that usually lead to a life of attacks regardless if you’re guilty or not, and there’s NOTHING you can do about it, unless you don’t take a deal!