Douglas County prosecutors asked the judge Thursday to set a rape case that has gained national attention for a retrial.
Albert Wilson, 25, of Wichita, was tried and convicted by a jury in January 2019 of one of two counts of rape filed against him in 2017. He was a student at the University of Kansas when he was charged in 2017. He was about two years and two months into the more than 12-year prison sentence he received in April 2019 before his conviction was overturned, his sentence was vacated, and he was released in March 2021, once again presumed innocent.
Attorneys on both sides — Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez, Deputy DA Joshua Seiden, and Wilson’s appellate attorneys, Joshua Dubin and Michael Whalen — all said they were optimistic that the case could be resolved without going to a second trial.
However, that was in March. After continuing court dates several times over the past five months, prosecutors said they have made Wilson a plea offer that expires at 5 p.m. Sept. 1.
If he doesn’t accept, his retrial date is set for Feb. 28.
Wilson had been offered a plea ahead of his first trial, which he rejected. Prosecutors didn’t share the details of the plea during Thursday’s hearing.
The case has drawn national attention because many believed Wilson, a young Black man, was wrongly convicted by a jury of mostly white women, symptomatic of larger issues of systemic racism.
The Kansas Court of Appeals sent his case back to Douglas County District Court in February 2020 for a special type of hearing meant to expedite proceedings faster than a typical appeal because of obvious issues of ineffective assistance of counsel. However, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed post-trial proceedings until November 2020.
Judge Sally Pokorny ruled that the jury could have come to a different decision in Wilson’s case if the jurors had known about certain evidence that Wilson’s attorney did not use, and if the state’s expert forensic psychologist had not lent the accuser credibility. She ruled that a retrial was necessary in the case.
After the ruling, Wilson was released from Hutchinson Correctional Facility on bond. He was directed not to speak with media or post on social media about the case.
Read more about Wilson’s case at the links below.