On his 29th birthday, disgraced former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Ken Holtzclaw rocked and cried and called out, "I didn't do it," as an Oklahoma County jury read its verdict against him.
Holtzclaw, charged with 36 crimes including first degree rape, forcible sodomy, sexual battery, indecent exposure, and burglary, was found guilty of 18 of those crimes.
The trial was long, and so were deliberations. In fact, it was one of the longest juror deliberations in recent memory in Oklahoma, with the jury beginning deliberations Monday and not returning a verdict until Thursday night.
The long deliberations caused speculation among attorneys and others: generally, they said, long deliberations favored the defense, but you can never predict what a jury will do. There was even some concern that the long deliberation would end in a hung jury, a mistrial that would cause the case to start over from the beginning.
Instead, the jury returned a mixed verdict, finding Holtzclaw guilty of 18 counts against 9 of his 13 accusers. Holtzclaw's convictions include 6 counts of sexual battery, 3 counts of procuring lewd exhibition, 4 counts of forcible oral sodomy, 4 counts of first degree rape and one count of second degree rape.
Complicating the case from the beginning was the lack of credibility of some of his accusers. At least one woman's complaint was dismissed long before the case ever went to trial, after she admitted that she made up the accusation in order to "help" the prosecution. Another woman showed up to testify under the influence of drugs. After she was found to be noticeably drowsy and unable to concentrate on the stand, she admitted to using multiple substances earlier in the day, including anti-psychotic medication, over the counter medication, and illegal drugs, including PCP.
Of course, the prosecution asserted that Holtzclaw chose his victims precisely for their lack of credibility. He chose women with substance abuse issues, criminal records, and outstanding warrants. He threatened to arrest them if they did not give in to his sexual demands. He understood, they say, that no one would believe them if they did come forward.
But finally, one did. After that, police investigation revealed other potential suspects, and in all, Holtclaw's list of accusers grew to 13; the jury found sufficient evidence to convict the former police officer on crimes related to the sexual assault of 9 of those women.
The jury recommended sentences of 30 years in prison for each first degree rape charge. All totaled, the sum of recommended sentences for the former Oklahoma City police officer reaches 263 years. Prosecutors say they plan to ask a judge to order the sentences to run consecutively, meaning Holtzclaw would spend the rest of his life in prison.
Formal sentencing is set for January 21, 2016.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, Pool via newsok.com