New trial ordered for man convicted of rape
An Ashland man convicted of rape has been granted a new trial after the word "knowingly" was accidentally left out of instructions to the jury.
On July 7, a jury unanimously convicted Talon Duane Ramoz, 30, of two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual penetration.
He was later sentenced to more than eight years in prison.
In an indictment before his trial, Ramoz was accused of knowingly having sexual intercourse with a woman in October 2015 while she was physically helpless and mentally incapacitated.
The woman was allegedly incapacitated and unable to consent after consuming champagne and Xanax, a prescription sedative.
During the trial, a police officer testified Ramoz said he had sex with the woman but he said the sex was consensual.
The woman testified she is gay, would not have had consensual sex with Ramoz and had earlier rebuffed his advances. The woman said she had never had sex with a man before the incident.
After Ramoz was convicted by the jury, Jackson County Deputy District Attorney David Orr said he noticed the term "knowingly" was left out of instructions to the jury. He alerted defense attorney Donald Scales.
Orr said the term was left out because of a clerical error.
In September, Scales filed a motion for a new trial, arguing the jury instructions identifying the elements of first-degree rape and unlawful sexual penetration were given to the jury without wording about Ramoz's mental state. He also argued there was insufficient evidence to sustain a verdict.
In November, Jackson County Circuit Judge Timothy Barnack, who presided over the trial, granted the motion for a new trial. He vacated Ramoz's conviction and his 100-month prison sentence.
Orr said he believes the omission of the term "knowingly" could be grounds for an appeal, but shouldn't be grounds for a new trial. He said the state Department of Justice has filed an appeal of the ruling granting a new trial.
Scales said he could not comment about a pending case.
In a 30-page letter to the judge, Ramoz asked that his case be dismissed entirely and that prosecutors be barred from trying him again.
Ramoz proclaimed his innocence, but said he also would have taken a plea agreement with a short prison term in exchange for a no contest plea or even a guilty plea. Ramoz called the jury's guilty verdict preposterous, and complained that 11 of the 12 jurors were women.
Ramoz called the incident with the woman a case of "regret not rape." He said the prison sentence he received was disproportionate because he said he did not use force or violence. Ramoz said he wasn't aware the woman had consumed pharmaceutical drugs and didn't know how much alcohol she had consumed. He said the woman was cognizant at the time of the incident.
Ramoz said the woman was not incapacitated because shortly afterward she was able to navigate two doorways and a flight of stairs, then ran away for almost a mile.
He is currently being held in the Jackson County Jail without bail. He has been in jail since October 2015.
Ramoz has a bail hearing scheduled for Friday during which a judge will consider whether to grant bail, and if so, at what amount.
Orr said he does not believe Ramoz should be released on bail.
Ramoz has a pretrial conference hearing set for Jan. 17, according to court records.