In August of this year, Michael Horton, a former teacher’s aide, was found guilty of first-degree sodomy in a Madison County court. Horton’s attorney asked for a pre-sentencing investigation immediately, as Horton and his family sat in disbelief, looking shocked at the jury’s verdict. Horton allegedly sexually abused a child who was in his care in 2008, and was arrested in 2009.
Although it took the jury two days to come to a decision, that decision was not easily made. According to a news article at WHNT News 19, the jurors told Judge Dennis O’Dell on Friday morning that they could not reach a verdict, that they were “stuck.” The case had been handed over to the jury on Wednesday afternoon. Judge O’Dell told the jurors to continue deliberating, and to do their best and “be fair.”
Horton’s defense lawyers said that the “story” was made up by the alleged victim’s family, and that their client is innocent. It took the case years to finally get to court, as various issues kept coming up. At one time, the victim would not cooperate, then changed course a few days later.
Horton is now appealing his conviction after being sentenced to 15 years in prison. He formerly worked as a teacher’s aide at Huntsville City Schools.
For Michigan criminal appeals attorneys, one thing is clear in this case – the evidence against Horton was not overwhelming or compelling enough for all 12 jurors to reach the same conclusion without much debate. In matters involving children and allegations of sexual abuse, it is often difficult to know whether the allegations are true, or the child is telling a story concocted by other family members. These types of situations are particularly delicate, and often put innocent people’s freedom and reputations in jeopardy.
Appealing a conviction is not an easy process, and winning is even more difficult. While appeals courts do overturn convictions, it is rare. If you are considering an appeal, your top priority should be finding a Michigan criminal appeals lawyer who is experienced and highly knowledgeable in the appeals process.