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News >  Idaho

Man seeks dismissal of Idaho rape case

Associated Press

MOSCOW, Idaho – A Twin Falls, Idaho, man convicted of raping a woman outside a University of Idaho fraternity house has asked that his conviction and 15-year sentence be dismissed.

Jesse M. Vierstra filed a petition earlier this week in 2nd District Court contending that his attorneys, Charles E. Kovis and Benjamin M. Onosko, failed to “conduct a proper investigation” and weren’t prepared for his March 2013 trial, the Lewiston Tribune reported.

Vierstra, a former UI student, had attended a fraternity party at the university in Moscow in October 2012, court records state. The woman told police they began kissing and when she tried to end the encounter, he picked her up, carried her to some bushes and raped her.

Vierstra was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison in June 2013. Judge Carl B. Kerrick opted not to place Vierstra in a prison rehabilitation program because Vierstra refused to participate in a psychosexual evaluation. Vierstra said his not participating in the evaluation was his attorneys’ fault.

Vierstra contended in the petition that he asked his attorneys to hire an investigator, but that Kovis and Onosko didn’t file the motion until Feb. 26, 2013. Vierstra said the investigator didn’t start working until March 3, 2013, and was still attempting to contact witnesses when the trial started.

Vierstra also said Kovis and Onosko failed to retain experts to review evidence that included the victim’s medical and cellphone records.

Vierstra in addition said Kerrick, the judge in the case, and his family have had a long relationship with the victim’s family and that Kovis and Onosko failed to properly question potential jurors. Vierstra said had he been sentenced by a judge who didn’t know the victim’s family, he would have likely received a less severe sentence, possibly just probation.

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