David Harold Earls made national headlines when he was given a twenty year sentence with nineteen years suspended as part of a plea agreement in the Oklahoma rape of a 4-year-old girl.
While his one-year jail term outraged Oklahomans, the agreement was made after his victim's testimony, the primary evidence in the case, was inconsistent and contradictory. Charges that Earls also molested the girl's brother were dropped after the boy changed his story and said he did not remember being assaulted by Earls. Earls is making headlines again as his Oklahoma defense lawyer argued that facing trial for additional charges against the victim and her brother would amount to double jeopardy.
Protection from "double jeopardy" is a constitutional right that protects citizens from being tried twice for the same crime. Under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, "[no person shall] be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb."
This law essentially protects citizens from being tried for the same crime following an acquittal, being retried after a conviction, and facing multiple punishments for the same crime. While Earls's Oklahoma sex crime defense attorney argued that a new trial would subject his client to double jeopardy after his initial conviction, a judge agreed with the state attorney general's office that, although the victims were the same in both cases, the accusations and charges are different from those in the original conviction.
The judge ruled that there is no evidence that prosecutors and the defense agreed that all crimes and acts committed by David Harold Earls were settled by the original plea agreement. The decision clears the way for a hearing today after Earls's grand jury indictment on three new counts of indecent and lewd acts with a child younger than 16. Earls was originally convicted of forcible oral sodomy and first degree rape in Oklahoma in 2009.