From the Baton Rouge Advocate: A state district court judge has overturned Wilbert Jones’ 1974 conviction in the abduction and rape of a Baton Rouge nurse, saying “highly favorable” evidence was withheld from the defense.
Jones, now 64, was found guilty in the Oct. 2, 1971, rape of a young Baton Rouge General Medical Center nurse who was abducted from the hospital parking lot. As the appellate judge noted, the case against Jones was “weak, at best.” The state’s entire case rested entirely on the nurse’s testimony, and questionable identification of Jones that came more than three months after her rape. The victim “admittedly was not certain about her identification of Jones, and she even expressed doubts to officers regarding the identification,” Anderson said.
At the same time, in 1971, police and prosecutors were aware of another young woman kidnapped a few days later, Oct. 29, 1971, from the parking lot of another nearby medical facility, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical, and also raped. The court said that the “strong similarities” between the two rapes are “almost too numerous to list.” He also stated that the nurse’s physical description of her attacker is “an almost identical match” to Arnold Ray O’Conner, who was convicted of armed robbery in a September 1973 home-invasion rape near Baton Rouge General. O’Conner’s fingerprints were found on the car of the woman kidnapped from the Our Lady of the Lake parking lot and raped, but Anderson said he was arrested but never charged in that incident. The prosecution was clearly obligated to turn over information about the second rape to Jones’ trial attorneys but failed to do so, and the court found that “there is a reasonable probability that, had the information been disclosed to competent counsel, the result of the proceeding would have been different.”
Is 46 years in prison on this record enough for the prosecution? Apparently not. The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office said they will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the ruling in Jones’ case.