WA Legal Roundup: Division II
State v. Wright & State v. Carter
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This case is consolidated. Wright and Carter appeal their convictions for third degree rape. Originally the State charged both defendants with second degree rape. S.F testified that the defendants raped her and their DNA was found on her body. She testified that she was held down by one with force she could not resist. The pelvic exam nurse did not find any evidence of nonconsensual sex and the defendants argued that the sex was consensual.
During trial the State argued for a jury instruction of the lesser-degree crime of third degree rape. The trial court ruled in the State’s favor finding sufficient evidence for the instruction despite the defendant’s objection to the jury instruction. After deliberations, the jury left the second degree verdict form blank but convicted both defendants of third degree rape.
This Court rules that third degree rape is not a lesser-degree charge but rather an inferior crime to second degree rape. They ruled that an inferior crime instruction should not be given absent sufficient evidence to acquit on the crime charged in the information and convict on the inferior crime. Here the victim testified that the rape was not consensual and forced, therefore, the court stated that the inferior crime should not have been instructed because there was evidence to support the crime charged in the information (second degree rape) and that neither S.F or the defendants testimony “supported an unforced nonconsensual rape.”
The case was reversed and remanded for a new trial.
Judge Hunt dissents.