On July 31, 68-year-old Matthew Andrew Carter was sentenced to 165 years in prison for the alleged sexual abuse of children living in a group home Carter ran for the poor. A news article at AnnArbor.com states that Carter traveled from Florida to Haiti frequently to abuse the children. He was convicted in February this year on one count of attempted child sex tourism, and five counts of traveling from the United States for the purpose of engaging in sex with minors.
Carter is a former Brighton, Michigan resident who now lives in Florida. He ran the Morning Star Center, a group home where residents could have access to shelter, clothes, food, and education. Residents of the center which was first located in Croix-des-Bouquets in Haiti and then Port-au-Prince, testified during Carter’s trial that as children, they were forced into sexual acts with the defendant in order to get clothes, shelter, school tuition, and other necessities.
Carter testified that over the past decade police had investigated numerous complaints regarding sexual misconduct at the Morning Star Center, but that he was never charged with a criminal offense by Haitian authorities. At trial, dozens of alleged victims testified against Carter, who disputes their credibility. According to U.S. authorities, Carter abused some 52 victims between 1995 and 2011, most of them males.
On Monday August 5, Carter filed an appeal of his prison sentence to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In his appeal, Carter questioned the lack of physical evidence as well as the lack of credibility in alleged victims who testified at trial.
As all Michigan criminal appeals lawyers are aware, a conviction or sentence for a criminal offense is not set in stone. Errors are made in the criminal justice process, as it is a human process; no one (police, prosecutors, judges, jurors) is beyond making mistakes. There are many people in prison today who are innocent, and many who have been unfairly sentenced for the crime they have been accused of.
In Michigan, it is critical when challenging a conviction or sentence that you consult with an experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney. These situations are highly complex; when you are fighting for a second chance, it is vital to have a lawyer who is skilled and thoroughly familiar with the appeals process on your side.