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Eric Knee

Other New Mexico exonerations
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On December 13, 2015, police arrested 69-year-old Eric Knee after two boys, ages 11 and 12, accused him of sexually molesting them in the shower at the Fort Marcy Recreation Complex in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The boys said they were showering in separate stalls when Knee came in. They said he was masturbating and touching their genitals.

In 2016, Knee went to trial in Santa Fe County District Court. A mistrial was declared when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, voting 7 to 5 to convict him.

In May 2017, Knee went to trial a second time. Again, the boys testified that he had molested them. They said that after swimming that afternoon, they went to the locker room to shower. The only two private shower stalls were occupied, one of them by Knee, the boys said.

The older youth said that when the stall next to Knee was free, he went in. “This guy kept looking at me,” the boy testified. “Then soon enough he closed his shower curtain, then came into mine and he touched me.”

The boy said he was “freaking out” and left the shower stall. He said he went into the locker room and told his friend, who did not believe him. The younger boy testified that he then went into the same shower next to Knee. He said that while he was washing his hair, Knee entered his stall. “He was touching his privates and he kept masturbating and looking down and looking at me and saying, ‘That’s nice.’”

The older boy said that he told the younger boy’s mother what had happened and she asked a recreation center employee to investigate. The employee testified that the boys pointed to Knee as the man who had touched them.

Knee’s defense lawyer called a lifeguard who testified that when he walked through the locker room that day, he saw Knee and he was “doing nothing.” The defense presented testimony that the two boys were in a shower stall together. A police officer who interviewed Knee said Knee reported that the boys were looking at him and became sexually aroused.

Knee testified and denied that he had molested the boys.

On May 25, 2017, the jury convicted Knee of two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor under age 13. Before he was sentenced, however, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer set aside the convictions and ordered a new trial.

The judge granted the motion after Knee’s attorney, Dan Cron, presented evidence from an eyewitness present in the locker room at the time of the alleged crimes who said the boys were laughing and joking, and not upset. In addition, Cron said other witnesses would similarly testify to seeing nothing unusual when the boys were there. Knee also took a polygraph examination and the examiner said Knee was not deceptive when he denied molesting the boys.

Moreover, Cron presented evidence that Knee had undergone a psychosexual evaluation that indicated he had no sexual attraction to males of any age. He also said that 24 hours after the boys accused Knee, one of them was unable to give a physical description of the man who molested him, including something as basic as what color the person’s hair was.”

Knee, who had been incarcerated after his conviction, was ordered released on November 27, 2018, pending a retrial.

In February 2020, he went to trial for a third time. During this trial, several witnesses testified that they were in the locker room at the same time as the boys and Knee, and that they saw or heard nothing unusual.

On February 27, 2020, the jury deliberated two and a half hours before acquitting Knee.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/23/2020
State:New Mexico
County:Santa Fe
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2015
Convicted:2017
Exonerated:2020
Sentence:Not sentenced
Race:White
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:69
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No