Two black teenagers were jailed for nearly one year in Richland County, South Carolina after being charged with rape. They remained in prison even after DNA evidence proved they didn’t commit the crime and months after another man was charged with the crime.
The rape occurred on August 5, 2015. A woman called police saying her neighbor appeared at her home naked, terrified, and bleeding, FITSNews reported, based on court documents. The victim said she was sleeping on her couch and woke up to find two men in her apartment. She couldn’t see them clearly, but said they raped her and stole two money orders from her.
She was interviewed by police at the hospital where lead investigator Joe Clarke took notes, writing the names “Kewon” and “Shakim.” As FITSNews reported, the investigation moved quick, finding a 16-year-old named Kewon English who lived in the neighborhood and happened to be with the victim’s son the night before the attack. An 18-year-old named Earl Powell was also with English that night. English was approached by police on August 5.
“The first thing they said to me was that I needed to hand over the money orders or they were taking me to jail,” English’s affidavit as part of his lawsuit stated. He said the officers spoke to him for about 10-15 minutes about the rape before telling him to come with them to the police station. “I asked if my mom could come with me, and they said no, because I was under arrest,” English said in his affidavit.
He said he was taken to the police station and handcuffed to a bench.
“I asked to call my mom on the phone and they said no,” English said in his affidavit. “I asked for an attorney, and asked the officers how I would go about getting an attorney, and they ignored me.”
English said in his affidavit that he was questioned for two hours without a break or even a drink of water and was denied a chance to go home. He said officer Clarke told him to write down what happened during the rape, even though English kept saying he didn’t know anything about it and hadn’t been part of the crime. English’s affidavit said Clarke then wrote out a statement and said the teen wouldn’t be able to go home until he signed it.
English signed the document because he wanted to go home and was charged with first-degree criminal sexual assault and first-degree burglary. He said he didn’t even know what the statement said until he saw a copy during the criminal case against him.
As FITSNews reported, Powell’s arrest was similar.
Both men provided DNA samples, and once they had defense attorneys, began requesting results.
“Without DNA test results, prosecutors in the cases added on two additional charges of kidnapping and armed robbery in November 2015,” FITSNews reported. “In April 2016 DNA test results came back in the case, but they matched another person named Marquise Randolph. Randolph was also charged in the case, at the same time English and Powell were still sitting behind bars in the same crime.”
English’s attorney said he was not told the results of the DNA results when they were first completed.
“Even more telling,” the outlet reported, “detectives compared both English and Powell’s DNA with the DNA found at the scene. Neither of them left fingerprints, blood, semen, fibers, hair, or any DNA on scene, according to court records.”
Even though Randolph was charged in April 2016, neither English nor Powell were released at that time. English was released on June 28 and forced to wear an ankle monitor. Powell wasn’t released from prison until he posted bond in September 2016. The charges against both teens were dropped in December 2016.
They’re now suing Sheriff Leon Lott and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for “wrongful arrest / false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, negligence and gross negligence in the hiring supervision and detention of employees,” FITSNews reported.
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