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Louisiana teen, cousin convicted of rape to spend life in prison

In Louisiana criminal cases involving several defendants, it is common for one or more accused individuals to agree to help prosecutors. The defendant who turns "state's evidence" is highly motivated to cooperate. Helping the state obtain convictions can be rewarded by charge or sentence reductions and sometimes even charge dismissals.

A 20-year-old Louisiana man charged with aggravated kidnapping, rape and armed robbery recently testified for prosecutors. The defendant's charges were reduced, after he told a court he agreed to rob a woman in Zion City but took no part in the victim's rape. Five defendants have been or will be tried for the crimes. A 21-year-old man prosecutors said led the sexual assault earlier pleaded guilty.

The prosecutor's witness testified against a pair of cousins, ages 19 and 23. The man stated he was with a group of men when a decision was made to commit robbery. He said the group targeted a woman parking a car. She was a home health nurse arriving at a patient's house.

The ringleader allegedly used a gun to force the woman to drive to a nearby abandoned house. The 55-year-old woman said she was then robbed and raped by several men, although wasn't clear about the number of attackers. The prosecution's witness said he refused to participate in the rape because the woman was old.

DNA connected the victim with the 19-year-old defendant, who stated that he and the woman had consensual sex. Prosecutors used recordings of the defendant's phone calls from jail to prove otherwise. The older defendant's mother claimed her son was out of New Orleans at the time of the crime, but no solid proof backed the woman's testimony.

The cousins were found guilty of all charges and will spend the rest of their lives in prison. Sex crimes allegations must be taken very seriously. A criminal defense attorney will explore all courses of legal action to help mitigate a client's circumstances.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "2 cousins found guilty in gang rape of home health nurse" Naomi Martin, May. 23, 2014

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