Sunday, June 14, 2015

MI: Victim in wrongful conviction case too afraid to talk about the real rapist, mom says


A mother whose live-in boyfriend allegedly raped her young daughter said she spent nearly 25 years believing that a teenage neighbor - a man prosecutors now say spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit - had sexually assaulted the 10-year-old girl.

Aurelias Marshall, convicted Monday of the 1990 murder of Joel Battaglia, was living with the girl and her mother on Wealthy Street SE in 1991.

The mother described Marshall as a violent, crack-addicted monster with multiple personalities, who beat her daughter in front of her and convinced the girl to lie about her sexual assault. The mother, in the trial two weeks ago, admitted to being a crack addict and part-time prostitute at that time

After the rape, the girl, in a trial prosecuted by Kent County and upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals, pointed the finger at then 17-year-old Quentin Lavell Carter.

Carter, a neighbor of the girl, would spend 17 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

During that time, police continued to investigate the murder of Battaglia, and circled back to Marshall as a suspect in that slaying. It was within that investigation that police say they determined it was Marshall who raped the girl.

On Wednesday, Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth put out a statement on Carter's wrongful 1992 conviction. He now is assisting the 40-year-old Grand Rapids man in filing a motion to set aside that conviction.

Carter was convicted by a jury and he was sentenced to six to 20 years in prison, Forsyth said. Forsyth said he has met with Carter and apologized on behalf of the prosecutor's office. Reached by phone, Carter has declined to comment.

Authorities told the girl's mother what they learned of the wrongful conviction in October, but she did not believe it. She believed police were lying to her in order to give her motivation to testify against Marshall, of whom she was mortally afraid.

The mother said she and her daughter had been very close until a few years ago when the two drifted apart. She said she still talked occasionally to her daughter, but the girl never revealed the truth.

She said the rape was not a subject her daughter wanted to talk about, but when she did, she claimed it was Carter who committed the crime.

"I don't blame her for that, I blame him – she was a little girl," the mother said, sitting on the front stoop of her Grand Rapids home on Thursday, June 11. "This man could have killed us."

The mother said after leaving Marshall in the 1990s, she wanted to stay away from the man she said would abuse both mother and daughter. She'd managed to hide all his crimes from police and even those close to him.

"He would say to me 'I will drop this little b----," the mother said referring to Marshall's threats to kill her daughter if the mother did not do as he wanted.

"He had a couple of different personalities," she said. "Reverend, charming neighbor, monster...No, monster's not good enough – beast."

She said even as he was raping, murdering and selling crack, Marshall told people he wanted to be a pastor. "He knew the Bible from one end to the other," she said. "He convinced me to bring my kids to church."

The mother said when she learned that Carter was innocent, she wept and she wants to talk to her daughter, who is apparently dodging her calls and texts.

"I don't want her to think I'm mad at her," the mother said. "We need to sit down and cry about this. This is something you have been keeping in for a long time."

The mother said even after they broke up, Marshall would track her down and would walk out in front of her home, presumably as a reminder that he could find her.

She said she does not know why Carter was chosen as the patsy for Marshall's crime, describing the 17-year-old as nothing more than a boy from the neighborhood. "I feel sorry for that boy now," the mother said. "She had everybody convinced it was him."

She said she cannot understand how this charade went on for so long. "I was asking myself last night, 'Where the hell was I?" the mother said. "What was I doing?"

Original report here

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