SAN JOSE -- An appeals court has overturned the conviction of a Soquel man accused of molesting a relative.
Anthony Achilles Poletti, 40, has been in state prison for more than two years after being convicted of 15 charges, including multiple counts of lewd acts with a child, aggravated sexual assault and rape. He was sentenced in May 2010 to 68 years and eight months in state prison.
Last week, the 6th District Court of Appeal reversed the Santa Cruz County Superior Court's decision, in a written opinion filed Dec. 19. The appeals court calls for the lower court to retry Poletti on 11 of the charges against him and to acquit him on one of the rape charges.
The appeals court ruled Poletti didn't get a fair trial for a number of reasons, including juror misconduct. The victim testified about an incident that occurred during winter break, which she testified began right before Christmas and continued into January. A juror. a retired teacher, later told other jurors that winter break is in February, as opposed to Christmas break in December. That led the jurors to conclude the victim was simply mistaken about the dates, the appeals court said.
"The information filled an evidentiary void in that it allowed the jury to conclude the victim was mistaken about the timing of an incident (February instead of January) when the evidence only allowed a conclusion that the victim was truthful or mendacious about the occurrence of the incident
Poletti's attorney, Michael Chaney, said the state attorney general's office has 30 days to petition the state Supreme Court for a new hearing on that matter. If the request is denied, the case will then go back to the Santa Cruz County court for either a new trial or a dismissal.
The lower court's decision was "clearly wrong," and Poletti was "wrongfully convicted," Chaney said.
Chaney, along with co-counsel Leonard Levine, said while the appeals court decision is vindicating, it doesn't make up for the fact that his client has been in prison for more than two years.
"Leonard Levine and I, and Mr. Poletti and his family and many supporters, all very much look forward to presenting the proof of Mr. Poletti's innocence upon retrial," Chaney said.
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