A Colorado man who was found guilty of sexually molesting children and sentenced to more than 300 years in prison has been released — on a judicial technicality.
In 2015, Michael McFadden, 46, was sentenced to serve 300 years after being convicted of 19 counts of sexual offenses against six children, KJCT8-TV reports.
But he was released from prison on Tuesday after the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned his conviction. Worse, he cannot be retried on those charges.
"I am completely appalled at this decision," Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told KJCT. "I think the criminal justice system completely failed here."
Just how did he get released? "If you've heard the phrase, 'he got off on a technicality,' this is exactly that situation," Rubinstein said.
The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that McFadden's statutory right to a speedy trial was violated when the presiding judge granted a continuance.That matters because McFadden has prior sexual offenses.
"Because those facts were coming in, the defense had submitted a jury questionnaire, which addressed his prior conduct on whether or not they could be fair," said Rubinstein.
Rubinstein said the judge didn't read the questionnaire until halfway through the new jury selection, and when he finally did, the judge decided McFadden couldn't get a fair trial. So, he granted a continuance.
"The defense objected and asserted their right to a statutory speedy trial," said Rubinstein.
It's that continuance that led to a Colorado Court of Appeals to overturn his conviction, ruling his right to a speedy trial was violated. Rubinstein said the judge in the case was trying to protect McFadden's constitutional right to a fair trial.
"Because the error here was that he shouldn't have been tried longer than 6 months from the last time he waived speedy trial, there was no remedy for that and therefore there is no ability to retry him," said Rubinstein.
While the Mesa County district attorney's office appealed the court's decision to overturn his conviction, the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Not only was McFadden exonerated of all charges, he does not have to register as a sex offender.
"I can't even imagine the terror that these kids are now feeling," Kathi Raley, Victim Assistance Coordinator at the District Attorney's Office, told KREX-TV.
After the news broke out that McFadden was freed from prison after being convicted of child sex crimes, Raley was on the phone non-stop.
"Several voicemails from mothers of victims who legitimately are fearful for their children and their children's safety," she said.
She, along with parents, are not the only one's upset over the decision. District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said the outcome is something he never saw coming.