Judge won’t dismiss charges

Prosecutors from the district attorney’s office fended off accusations of selective prosecution and destruction of evidence during a hearing Monday

By Heather Stauffer, Sentinel Reporter, September 25, 2007

Last updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 11:18 AM EDT

Following testimony from Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed Monday, Cumberland County Judge Edward Guido denied motions to dismiss charges against a Newville man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in 2005.

The motions were initiated by Cumberland County Senior Assistant Public Defender Linda Hollinger, who is representing James Carl Thomas Jr.

In one motion, Hollinger argued that the rape charge should be dropped because of selective prosecution. In the other, she sought to have all charges -- rape and statutory sexual assault -- dropped because evidence had been destroyed.

At issue are four previous cases involving the same girl. In 2005, four Hispanic men, all illegal immigrants from Honduras, were charged with statutory sexual assault.

Arnoldo M. Mejia, Juan P. Flores, Oscar A. Mejia and Alexander P. Solis chose to accept plea bargains, agreeing to serve two to four years in prison and then be deported.

During the hearing Monday, Hollinger argued that the fact that her client was charged with rape and offered a less attractive plea bargain -- three to six years on a lesser charge of statutory sexual assault -- constituted selective prosecution.

Thomas, 22, is Caucasian and a legal resident of Cumberland County.

On the witness stand, Freed said that although he hadn’t officially assumed the role of district attorney when the plea deals were made with the four Honduran men, he was the first assistant district attorney and had a say in approving the agreements.

He disagreed with any notion that there was anything “nefarious