A Dayton man convicted of rape in 2014 will be allowed to file for a new trial, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled.
Tracy McNeal was accused of rape after an incident at a Dayton Apartment complex.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a trial court must grant a motion for permission to allow McNeal request a new trial after the prosecution failed to turn over a lab report that could disprove an element of the offense and raise questions about the credibility of the alleged victim's testimony.
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In 2014, McNeal, his wife, and their children were temporarily living with the apartment owner. On the evening of the alleged rape, McNeal, his wife, the owner, the owner's sister and husband drank alcohol together at the apartment, according to court documents.
The owner became sick and was taken to her bedroom. Later in the evening, the sister returned to check on her and saw McNeal standing in the bedroom doorway with his pants down and pulling the door shut behind him.
The alleged victim later testified that she was "knocked out" and "really, really drunk" and testified that someone dragged her roughly across her bed as she passed in and out of consciousness, according to court documents. She awoke later with the understanding that someone had sex with her and that did not consent to have sex.
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McNeal was charged with rape, and because of his criminal history, he was also charged with a repeat-violent-offender specification.
Immediately following his conviction, McNeal did not file a motion for a new trial.
A request for a new trial is required to be made within 14 days of a conviction, however, the deadline is 120 days when the defendant relies on new evidence that could not have been discovered and produced at trial, according to Ohio rules of criminal procedure.
McNeal filed his motion for leave in 2020.
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The motion stated that McNeal said he had received a laboratory report from the Dayton Police Department through a public records request that indicated that the apartment owner had no alcohol in her blood approximately 3.5 hours after the alleged rape.
McNeal provided a sworn statement from his trial lawyer that the county prosecutor did not turn over the lab report during discovery, according to documents.
He argued that the report should have been turned over because it showed the owner was not substantially impaired by alcohol at the time of the alleged rape which would contradict her testimony that she could not consent to sex because she was too intoxicated.
The trial court denied McNeal's request to file a motion for a new trial. McNeal appealed the denial to the Second District, which upheld the trial court's decision. McNeal appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.
The Supreme Court ruled that the trial court's reasoning was wrong, because the trial court said that the prosecutor did not know about the lab report. However, a Supreme Court decision states that it's the prosecutor's duty to disclose evidence that is favorable to a defendant. For this reason, it was irrelevant that the prosecutor was not aware of the report, the court stated.
The case has been remanded back to the trial court to grant McNeal's motion.