Winona Daily News reports that a man convicted of criminal sexual conduct in 2014 has been granted a new trial after his conviction was reversed by an appeals court.
Ramone Lamont Newell, 29, was found guilty by jury in October 2014 of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree burglary. The jury deliberated only three hours. The judge later sentenced him to 30 years in prison.
At the time, Newell was a level 3 registered predatory sexual offender. His past crimes included peeping and burglary. In this case, he was accused of entering a woman’s home in April 2013 and forcing her to perform sex acts while threatening he had a knife.
Minnesota’s Court of Appeals recently ruled that Newell’s former convictions should not have been admissible as evidence in his trial, mainly because the behavior in the prior convictions was dissimilar to the current charges.
At Newell’s trial, his lawyers objected to the evidence that he had four prior convictions related to interference with privacy. However, the appeals court found that three of the four prior convictions “did not involve intrusion into a victim’s home, while the 2013 crime involved a home invasion.”
On April 25, 2013, a woman awoke to find an unknown man standing at the foot of her bed. He told her he had a knife, made her roll over and covered her face before forcing her to perform sexual acts. When he left, he also took her purse and cell phone, according to court records.
Police responding to the scene found footprints near her window and discovered they matched one of Newell’s boots at his home. DNA swabs from a fan switch could not exclude Newell, and he fit the victim’s physical description of the assailant.
Newell’s prior convictions include burglary, assault, indecent exposure and interference with privacy, dating back to 2003. He has been known to expose himself in public, peep through windows while masturbating and even once reached through a window to touch a sleeping woman’s leg.
*Photo credit Winona Daily News