The attorney for a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexual assaulting a female student in 2016 argued Tuesday morning in an appeal of the jury's verdict that it should be overturned because of a lack of evidence.
Brock Turner was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexual penetration of an unconscious person with a foreign object in March 2016. He was sentenced to six months in jail and was released after three months for good behavior.
"If he wins the appeal he no longer will have a conviction so he will no longer have a criminal record and he won't be required to register as a sex offender," said legal analyst Dean Johnson.
Attorney Eric Multhaup said of his appeal that Turner had only engaged in "sexual outercourse" that did not involve the intent to commit rape. Turner was not present in the courtroom during the appeal.
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He defined "sexual outercourse" as an activity that does not involve vaginal sex and described it as "a version of safe sex."
He said Turner was not naked and his genitals were not exposed when two students witnessed "aggressive thrusting" in January 2015 at a fraternity party near Stanford, and said the lack of evidence did not meet the standard of reasonable doubt pointing to an intent to rape.
Multhaup said the jury "filled in the blanks" to reach their decision, including "imagination" and "speculation" as to what had actually occurred. He also questioned the extent of the victim's intoxication at the time of the assault.
Justices Frank Elia, Adrienne Grover and Wendy Clark Duffy repeatedly asked Multhaup whether he was asking them to reweigh the jury's decision, saying he should instead be trying to prove that the evidence was insubstantial.
They also dismissed his claims that the DNA evidence on the victim's body was never connected to Turner.
"I think what you're arguing is that there must be direct evidence before someone can be convicted of any crime, but the law isn't like that," Elia said.
Responding to his claims, Deputy Attorney General Alisha Carlile said Multhaup's argument was based in proving that his "version" of events was more credible than the prosecution's.
She argued that multiple factors pointed to Turner's intent to rape, including that he took the victim to a secluded location, he first digitally penetrated her, and he failed to deny that he was planning to rape the victim when the act was interrupted.
Elia asked Multhaup to consider the case as a whole, rather than "surgically remove" portions of the case and inspect them separately to construct an appeal.
"He was duly convicted by a jury," said Michele Dauber, who spearheaded the recall of Judge Persky. "His appeal appears to be yet another opportunity for him to blame the victim."
The judges now have up to 90 days to respond to Multhaup's appeal, according to the state attorney general's office.
Marianne Favro contributed to this article.