Almost twenty years after he was convicted of child molestation, an Olympia, Washington man has been released from prison because his accuser recanted.
Jerry Lee Brock has been released, having been imprisoned since 1995 when a jury convicted him of child molestation. The accuser, aged 11 at the time, came forward almost two years ago to recant her story. In a typed statement, she admitted that she made up the allegations to get more attention from her mother. She later testified that she came forward to clear her conscience. A Thurston County judge found the recantation credible. The judge vacated the child molestation conviction and ordered a new trial.
The Washington Court of Appeals has stated that “to ‘recant’ is ‘to withdraw or repudiate formally or publicly.'” State v. Landon, 69 Wn. App. 83, 92, 848 P.2d 724 (1993).
In Washington, a recantation is considered newly-discovered evidence., A judge must consider whether a recantation is credible before granting a new trial. When a defendant is convicted solely on the basis of one witness’s testimony, as Lee was, and that witness later gives a credible recantation, it is an abuse of discretion for a trial court to deny the motion for new trial.
Applying these rules, the Olympia judge granted a new trial and ordered Lee released while he awaits it. The new trial is set to begin in February 2015. However, the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office says it will review the remaining evidence to see if it is sufficient to move forward to trial.