An error at trial lead to an appeal and new trial for 56-year-old Robert Gray of Kings Mountain. Originally convicted of first degree sexual offense of a minor and indecent liberties with a minor, Gray was facing over 25 years in prison.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned that conviction in October 2009 because evidence was used against Gray at trial that should not have been. Eighteen years prior to sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl, Gray had been convicted of assault and battery in South Carolina after he sexually assaulted a 4-year-old boy.
Including the evidence of Gray’s “prior bad acts” influenced the outcome of Gray’s trial related to the sex offense charges stemming from his actions with the 5-year-old girl. The Court also noted that the significant amount of time between the two sexual assaults weighed on their decision as well as a lack of physical evidence related to the assault and discrepancies in the child’s recollection of the sex offense. The Court of Appeals ordered a new trial.
Instead of going through trial again, Gray accepted a plea deal. He was sentenced to five years in prison for second-degree kidnapping and indecent liberties with a child. He is considered a recidivist because he has committed more than one sex offense and must register with the North Carolina sex offender registry for life and must wear a monitoring bracelet.
Gray already served the majority of his now-5-year sentence while his case was going through the appeals process.
Source: Gaston Gazette, “Sex offender gets lesser sentence on appeal,” Rebecca Clark, June 5, 2012