A judge could soon rule on whether Albert Wilson, now 25, will see a new trial.
Wilson was convicted in a Lawrence rape case in January 2019, and he was sentenced to just more than 12 years in prison. However, many supporters of Wilson — both from his hometown of Wichita, and people who have heard of the case via social media nationwide — believe he was wrongly convicted.
The Kansas Court of Appeals remanded the case to Douglas County District Court for a “Van Cleave hearing,” which is not the typical way the appellate process works in Kansas. Such hearings are granted when the appellate court believes there could be obvious issues of ineffective assistance of counsel. In theory, it should get the case back before the trial judge more quickly than going through the entire appeals process.
That remand came in February 2020, but because of COVID-19, the in-person evidentiary hearing was delayed for months.
In two days of hearings in November 2020, Wilson’s appellate defense attorneys, Joshua Dubin and Michael Whalen, presented evidence that Wilson’s attorney during his jury trial said he missed. If it had come out in the trial, Dubin and Whalen said, the evidence could have raised questions about the truthfulness of some of the statements the accuser made in a psychiatric evaluation, and in her courtroom testimony.
Whalen and the prosecutor who handled the appeal in the case both filed their findings of fact and conclusions of law in the case in December 2020, and Judge Sally Pokorny’s decision has been pending since.
The case has drawn much attention nationwide, including from some celebrities, because many people believe Wilson’s conviction was symptomatic of implicit racial bias. Wilson, a young Black man, was convicted by a jury comprising mostly white females, as was the girl who accused Wilson.
The case is set for a Zoom hearing that will be broadcast on the Douglas County District Court’s YouTube page at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 16. The livestream will show up at that link once court has begun.
Dubin and Whalen did not immediately respond to an email sent Wednesday afternoon asking whether they believe the judge will issue her ruling at that time.
The Douglas County district attorney’s office said in response to the Times Wednesday that “This matter has been submitted to the Court. The State will not speculate as to how or when the Court may rule.”2017-CR-001012-Wilson-final-args-redax
— Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached via email at email@example.com or 785-422-6363.