RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Attorneys for a North Carolina man serving life in prison for a 1976 rape that he denies committing are vowing to continue their appeals effort after a federal court panel ruled against him.
In a 2-1 ruling Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld decisions by state and federal judges rejecting Ronnie Long's attempts to be granted a new trial.
Long's attorneys now plan to request a hearing before the full Fourth Circuit court, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The panel's majority opinion said that while Long had shown that a North Carolina judge misstated the burden of proof regarding claims that prosecutors had withheld evidence potentially favorable to the defense, that error does not entitle Long to relief.
According to the panel, the state judge concluded that the cumulative effect of any new evidence with any value was so minimal that it would have had no impact on the outcome of Long's trial.
The dissenting judge in the panel's decision argued that Long deserves a new trial because prosecutors lied and withheld evidence.
According to court records, the victim identified Long as her assailant after police asked her to go to the local courthouse several days after the rape to see if any defendants making appearances that day was her attacker.
Court records indicate that Concord police had learned about a similar burglary and rape in Washington, D.C. In that case, the victim found Long's Social Security card in her apartment after the attack. That led to Washington Metropolitan Police seeking Long, a Concord resident, for questioning.
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