A man who had consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 is not eligible for bail while appealing his 10-year prison sentence, a judge ruled Wednesday.
The ruling is likely to mean that 21-year-old Genarlow Wilson will remain behind bars for several more months at least.
In Wednesday's ruling, Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson said Wilson's conviction for one of the so-called seven deadly sins, under Georgia law, makes him ineligible for bail. He canceled a hearing that had been scheduled for July 5.
The Georgia Supreme Court is not set to hear his appeal of his term for aggravated child molestation until October. The justices, without explanation, denied a motion by state Attorney General Thurbert Baker to expedite the appeal.
Wilson has served more than 28 months of his 10-year mandatory sentence for receiving oral sex at a 2003 New Year's Eve Party. The law has since been changed by Georgia lawmakers, but the state's top court said the new law could not be applied retroactively.
Sentencing Law & Policy wonders why the state has decided to argue against release:
I do not quite understand why executive officials in Georgia believe it is necessary and appropriate — or even lawful — to keep Wilson in prison when the last state judge to review this case has declared Wilson's sentence unconstitutional. I understand that the Georgia Attorney General regards the lower court's ruling as problematic. But given that the AG apparently recognizes that Wilson presents no risk of flight or dangerousness, shouldn't he agree to Wilson's release pending appeal. Indeed, might one argue that it is unconstitutional for the Georgia AG to continued Wilson's imprisonment under these circumstances?
TalkLeft thinks the judge may have applied the law wrong:
While serving his sentence, Genarlow filed a Habeas Petition, arguing the sentence violated the 8th Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment. It was granted. It is the state that is now seeking appellate review of the habeas decision. So which statute should apply, the habeas or the appeal bond?
Without reading the statutes, I'd say the habeas statute applies. The last legal ruling in the case was one ordering him freed and reducing his crime to a misdemeanor. He's not appealing his felony conviction, the state is appealing the granting of his habeas. Even if the appeal bond statute applies, shouldn't it be one applicable to misdemeanors, since that's all he stands convicted of as of now? Again, Georgia lawyers, feel free to weigh in here.