In January 1996, 38-year-old Lafayette Green was arrested and charged with sexual battery of a woman in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The victim, a friend of Green’s family, told police that she was cleaning the bedroom of Green’s home when he knocked her down and sexually assaulted her.
Green went on trial in July 1996 in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. The victim testified that Green knocked her onto a bed and sexually assaulted her. An emergency room physician who examined the victim after the attack said she had abrasions to her vagina. There was no semen, according to the testimony.
Green’s defense attorneys asked to present testimony from Green’s wife and stepson that a week before the victim said she was attacked, she had asked Green’s wife if she knew a way to get Green kicked out of the house so she could move in. When Green’s wife said she did not, the victim said she would “find a way.” The trial judge barred the testimony as inadmissible hearsay.
In July 1996, Green was convicted of two counts of sexual battery and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
In April 1997, the Fourth District Florida Appellate Court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. The appellate court ruled that the judge had erred by barring the testimony of Green’s wife and stepson. The court ruled that “the victim’s motive to fabricate the charge goes to the crux of the defense. Defendant’s wife’s testimony was crucial to establish the victim’s motive for lying....”
Green was released on bond in May 1997 and went on trial a second time in June 1997. After the victim again testified that Green sexually assaulted her, Green’s 13-year-old stepson testified that a week before the victim went to police, she came unannounced to the Green family home. He said he was crouched on a stairwell when he heard the victim ask his mother, Angela Green, if she knew a way to get Green removed from the home. He said that when his mother said she did not, the victim said she would find a way.
Angela Green also testified to the conversation and corroborated her son’s account. She testified that the victim apparently wanted to move into their home because she was having domestic problems at home.
On June 26, 1997, the jury acquitted Green.