A divided Idaho Supreme Court has refused to give a man convicted of kidnapping and rape a new trial, although the dissenting justice contends the case should go back to district court.
The court on Friday voted 4-1 to reverse 7th District Judge Brent Moss. He ordered a new trial for Michael D. Whiteley, who in 1991 was convicted of kidnapping and rape and sentenced to 12 to 25 years in prison.
Whiteley, in a petition for post-conviction relief, asked for a new trial on several grounds. He presented a witness who didn’t testify at his trial but said it didn’t appear the female victim was held under duress. The victim refused to testify at the hearing, and Whiteley claimed that meant she recanted her testimony.
But in a decision written by Justice Jesse Walters, the Supreme Court ruled that Whiteley’s evidence and testimony did not meet the requirement for ordering a new trial.
The fact that the victim refused to testify again could not be used as a factor, the court said, because the parties are not entitled to draw any inferences from her use of that constitutional right.
Justice Gerald Schroeder said the case should be sent back to district court for a determination whether there was a sound legal basis for granting a new trial.
xxxx OTHER COURT NEWS In other state Supreme Court decisions released Friday: The court upheld the zoning, annexation and subdivision plat approval for the Hobble Creek subdivision in northwest Boise. Two property owners and the city of Eagle challenged rezoning for a 188-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Chinden Boulevard and North Eagle Road. The court overturned a district court ruling allowing the attorney general’s office to intervene in a dispute between brothers administering a charitable foundation. The Supreme Court said once the brothers agreed to dismiss their lawsuits, the state had no authority to later intervene.