On August 8, 1990, Maureen Fournier was abducted from Warren, Michigan, raped, and viciously assaulted. She was found naked and partially disemboweled, but alive, on a Detroit street the next morning.
At the hospital, she told police that she had been attacked by Jeffrey Moldowan, her ex-boyfriend, and three of his friends, including Michael Cristini
. All four were quickly arrested.
Charges against two of them were dropped because both had solid alibis.
Cristini and Moldowan went on trial on April 30, 1991 in Macomb County Circuit Court. The primary evidence consisted of Fournier’s testimony and bite mark analysis by two dentists. Both testified that Cristini and Moldowan had bitten Fournier.
Cristini and Moldowan offered evidence that they were not together that night, with Cristini being at work delivering pizzas. The jury convicted both of rape, kidnapping and assault on May 13, 1991. Moldowan was sentenced to 60 to 90 years in prison and Cristini was sentenced to 50 to 75 years in prison.
After the conviction, Moldowan’s family hired an investigator who found a witness who said that he had seen four black men standing around a naked woman lying on the street on the morning that the victim was found. Cristini and Moldowan are white. More important, one of two odontologists who testified at the trial, Pamela Hammel, recanted her testimony, saying that she could not be sure either of the defendants bit the victim. Hammel said that when she had difficulty initially linking the men, the other prosecution odontologist, Allan Warnick, assured her that a third odontologist had reviewed the evidence and confirmed his assessment that the defendants left the bite marks. Hammel said that gave her the confidence to testify. After the trial she learned that no other expert had actually examined the evidence and that had she known the truth, she would not have testified.
On May 15, 2002, citing the new evidence, the Michigan Supreme Court granted Moldowan a new trial. On February 12, 2003, Moldowan was acquitted by a jury in his retrial.
Carl Marlinga, the Macomb County prosecutor, helped Moldowan win a new trial by filing a brief which said that Moldowan suffered actual prejudice from the incomplete and misleading evidence presented to his jury. Marlinga was later indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of soliciting political contributions from a friend of Moldowan in return for writing the brief. Ultimately, Marlinga was acquitted of any wrongdoing.
Cristini was granted a new trial by the Macomb County Circuit Court on October 20, 2003 on the same grounds as Moldowan. In addition, Cristini had developed stronger alibi evidence from time cards and co-workers that he was at work on the night in question. He also obtained another bite mark analyst who testified that Cristini could not have been one of people who had bitten Fournier because he had a gap in his front teeth that was not reflected in any of the bites. In his retrial, Cristini was acquitted by a jury on April 8, 2004.
Moldowan and Cristini filed wrongful conviction lawsuits and in November, 2011, Moldowan settled his case against Macomb County and the city of Warren for $3,150,000 and against prosecution odontologist Allan Warnick for $200,000. Cristini reached a settlement with Warnick for an undisclosed amount. His lawsuit against Macomb County and the city of Warren was pending as of the end of 2011.
– Michael S. Perry