Judge overturns rape conviction for man who served 17 years in prison

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jun 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-25 22:53:22-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Quentin Carter, the West Michigan man who spent nearly 17 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, has finally had his name cleared.

An official order Thursday from Kent County Judge George Buth ensures that the criminal sexual conduct charge that Carter was convicted of in 1992 is removed from his record and he is removed from the sex offender registry, according to his attorney, Anne Buckleitner.

The case involved a then-10-year-old girl who police say was forced to lie about Carter's involvement.  The man who allegedly forced her to lie, Aurelias Marshall, was recently convicted in the 1990 murder of Joel Battaglia.

It was during the Battaglia cold case investigation that officials talked to the victim, who then revealed it was Marshall who sexually assaulted her and not Carter.   Buckleitner says the victim went to officials twice while Carter was behind bars and said that she lied about her testimony.

Carter maintained his innocence for 23 years.  While in prison, he was encouraged to admit guilt and participate in counseling programs, but he refused.

"We are going to use this paperwork, the order from Judge Buth, to ensure that his name is removed from any kind of registry or any kind of records that reflect that he has a criminal record," Buckleitner said.  "So we will use this to remove his name from the federal databases as well as the state databases."

Buckleitner said the next step for Carter's case is to investigate exactly how he was convicted.   At the time Kent County prosecutors believed they had enough evidence to convict Carter, but there was o DNA evidence to connect him to the assault because the victim’s mother took her to the hospital nearly 10 days after the alleged assault was said to have happened.

William Forsyth, who has been the Kent County Prosecutor for 29 years, has apologized to Carter.

“I’m not going to hide behind the fact that ultimately it was this office that convicted him, and I would do anything to be able to change that, but I can’t,” he told FOX 17 earlier this month.

Forsyth said he will not seek any further charges against Marshall, adding he didn’t want to put the victim through another trial.