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Terrence Jose

Other Michigan No Crime Cases
In July 2009, 33-year-old Terrence Jose was charged with criminal sexual assault of his 5-year-old daughter in Oakland County, Michigan.
 
At trial in January 2010, the girl testified that her father had put his finger into her anus when she was staying with him between March 31 and April 2, 2009.
 
The girl’s mother, Takila Brooks, who no longer lived with Jose, reported that the girl told her that Jose had digitally penetrated her anus while she was visiting him.
 
Although the couple had not lived together for several years, Jose took an active role in raising his daughter and she regularly spent time with him. Sometime after a visit that ended on April 2, 2009, the girl was home, taking a bath, when Brooks said she overheard the girl say, “It hurt, it hurt, it burned and burned.” Brooks testified that when she asked her daughter where it hurt, the girl pointed to her buttocks. Brooks testified that at first, the girl denied anyone had touched her, but after continued questioning, the girl said that Jose had put his finger in her anus.
 
Brooks testified that she took the girl to a hospital for an examination, later to police, and then to the Care House of Oakland County where the girl was interviewed by a child sex abuse counselor.
 
Jose’s lawyer cross-examined Brooks about the circumstances of her break-up with Jose and whether she still was angry with him. Brooks said, “It was a bad break-up,” but she denied still being angry with Jose.
 
Jose’s lawyer tried to cross-examine Brooks about text messages, but she denied sending him texts. When the defense lawyer sought to present evidence that she sent texts stating that she was indeed very angry with Jose, the prosecution objected on the ground that the defense failed to present any evidence that the text messages that were offered in evidence were accurate copies of messages that had actually been sent by Brooks. The trial judge agreed and excluded the evidence.
 
The counselor testified that the girl initially denied that any abuse occurred. But, the counselor said she continued to interrogate her and finally the girl said Jose had penetrated her with his finger. The counselor said that when the girl started to expand her allegations into new stories, she ended the interview.
 
A nurse who examined the girl said that there was no evidence of trauma to the girl’s anus. The nurse said she found redness around the girl’s vaginal area which was consistent with irritation from soap. The nurse also testified that although she did not investigate for the presence of a urinary tract infection, such an infection also could have caused the redness in the vaginal area.
 
Jose testified in his own defense and denied that he had touched his daughter in an improper way. He said he believed Brooks had manipulated the girl into making the false allegation because Brooks was angry over Jose’s refusal to get back together with her. When Jose’s defense lawyer again sought to introduce the text messages during Jose’s testimony, the prosecution again objected and the evidence was again barred by the judge.
 
During closing arguments, the prosecution argued that Brooks had no motivation to fabricate the claim that her daughter told her that she had been sexually assaulted by Jose.
 
The jury deliberated for three days before reporting that they were deadlocked and could not reach a unanimous verdict. After the judge ordered the jury to continue deliberating, they convicted Jose on the fourth day of deliberation. Jose was sentenced to 25 to 40 years in prison.
 
On appeal, the State Appellate Defender’s Office persuaded the Michigan Court of Appeals to order the trial judge to hold a hearing to determine whether Jose’s attorney had provided an inadequate legal defense by failing to take the necessary steps to secure the admission of the text messages in evidence.
 
A computer expert testified at the hearing on Jose’s behalf that his examination showed that the messages were indeed sent from Brooks’s cell phone to Jose’s cell phone.
 
The text messages revealed that in June 2009, Brooks was seeking to get back together with Jose and wanted to resume a sexual relationship. The tone abruptly changed in July 2009—after Jose said he did not want to resume their relationship. One text said, “I’m sorry I chose yo punk ass 4 my baby daddy.”
 
In July 2013, the defense motion for a new trial was granted on the ground that Jose’s defense lawyer had failed to provide evidence that the text messages were authentic and that had he done so, the messages would have been admitted at Jose’s trial. The judge ruled that Brooks’s credibility was a critical issue at the trial and the messages were a vital part of Jose’s defense.
 
In February 2014, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge’s decision granting a new trial and Jose was released on bond pending a retrial. When the prosecution re-interfiewed the girl in preparation for the retrial, the girl recanted her testimony and denied that the sexual assault ever occurred.
 
On July 14, 2014, the Oakland County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge.
 
– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 7/18/2014
State:Michigan
County:Oakland
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2009
Convicted:2010
Exonerated:2014
Sentence:25 to 40 years
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:32
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No