'They should be sharing a cell': Woman juror believes NYPD cops were GUILTY of raping womanJames A. Cohen in DailyMail, June 27, 2011
By Mark Duell
A juror who acquitted two NYPD police officers of raping a woman at her flat believes they are guilty.
Kenneth Moreno, 43, and Franklin Mata, 29, were acquitted of rape last month after a sensational trial over the incident in New York City in December 2008 - but convicted of official misconduct.
Now they will be sentenced on Tuesday and could be jailed for up to two years over the conviction, which was for repeatedly returning to her apartment while telling dispatchers they were elsewhere.
Verdict: Kenneth Moreno, left, and Franklin Mata were cleared of rape at New York Supreme Court last month
Juror Melinda Hernandez said she believes ‘in my heart’ they were actually guilty of raping the 29-year-old Gap executive, but prosecutors could not prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.
‘I hope (Justice Gregory Carro) throws the gavel at them,’ she told the New York Daily News. ‘They should get the max. They deserve it. They should be roommates (in jail).’
Moreno was accused of raping the drunk woman while Mata stood watch, after police were called by a taxi driver to help her into her apartment following a night out with friends in New York City.
Both officers have since been fired from NYPD, with Moreno describing the whole case at New York Supreme Court as a ‘lesson’ and Mata saying he wanted to get on with his life after the verdict.
But the woman, who now lives in San Francisco, California, said the verdict left her 'devastated' and 'heartbroken', taking her back to her bedroom when her ‘world was turned upside down’.
Angry: Hundreds of people gathered outside New York Supreme Court to protest about the verdict
Lawyers say the case spotlights the difficulty of prosecuting rape cases without DNA evidence and challenges some defence lawyers' reluctance to have their clients testify.
Women's rights activists plan to rally outside the sentencing and say it shook their trust in police.
‘Whenever you mix cops, alcohol and sex, it's guaranteed to provoke interest and controversy’
The verdict came despite a secretly recorded conversation with the woman, when Moreno alternately denied they had sex and said ‘yes’ twice when she asked if he had used a condom.
‘Whenever you mix cops, alcohol and sex, it's guaranteed to provoke interest and controversy,’ juror John Finck said.
‘(But) the jury's job is very precisely and narrowly defined, and it's not anything about sending an ideological message to the cops or to women's groups or to life in the city, to bar culture.
‘It would have been so much easier had there been physical evidence, but in the absence of that you had to go into the more subjective realms of credibility, of witnesses, of corroborating testimony.’
‘Women are rattled about this, really rattled,’ said Sonia Ossorio, of the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter. ‘Turning to police for help is no longer a given.’
Fordham University School of Law professor James A. Cohen said prosecutors should ‘take some caution from it’ but gaps in the woman’s story and a lack of forensic evidence were big hurdles.
‘Women are rattled about this, really rattled. Turning to police for help is no longer a given'
Sonia Ossorio, the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the misconduct convictions acknowledge that the former officers violated the law and the public's trust.
But Moreno's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina said he was struck by the ‘visceral reaction’ to the case.
‘It's been disappointing to see people complain or protest or argue against the verdict when they didn't see a minute of testimony,’ he said. Mata's lawyer, Edward Mandery, declined to comment.
The accuser’s lawyer, Yasmin Saeed, said after the case that the woman would move forward with a $57million civil lawsuit against the City of New York and the law firm was 'shocked' by the verdict.