TROY, Ala. - An Alabama judge has overturned two rape convictions against a Troy man, saying prosecutors failed to share evidence that was relevant to the man's defense.
Pike County Circuit Judge Jeffrey W. Kelley ordered a new trial for 36-year-old Andre Lamon Ellis, who was sentenced to 85 years in prison in March after a jury convicted him of raping two women at Hunter's Mountain Mobile Estates a year earlier.
Prosecutors said they were reviewing options for a possible appeal. Meanwhile, Ellis' lawyers applauded the Friday ruling, the Dothan Eagle reported.
"We believe that justice prevailed," defense attorney J. Carlton Taylor said in a written statement.
In his order, the judge said Pike County prosecutors violated court rules by failing to share with defense attorneys interviews with one of the victims that contained inconsistent statements and also conflicted in part with the woman's trial testimony.
The judge said prosecutors also never disclosed a police affidavit that noted one victim who was shown a photographic lineup of possible suspects picked a man other than Ellis as her attacker.
"The fact that the victim wrongfully identified another person would be material," Kelley said in his ruling.
Investigators found no forensic or physical evidence to link Ellis to the rapes, the judge said, meaning the credibility of trial testimony "may well have been a determining factor" in the jury's decision to convict Ellis.
Pike County Assistant District Attorney Chris Kaminski said in a statement that prosecutors were reviewing legal options with the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.
Kaminski said his office "stands with the victims of these horrendous acts and will continue to make efforts to insure Andre Ellis is held accountable for his actions."