Buying Time

Devereux Rapist’s Sentencing Delayed

by Ethan Stewart

With a packed, emotionally charged courtroom looking on, what was meant to be the final chapter in the Darren Boyer Thomas rape trial took an unexpected turn this week when the sentencing hearing was put on hold midway through the proceedings. Armed with jailhouse research conducted by Thomas — a former Devereux supervisor — defending attorney Steve Baylash made a successful last-minute motion to continue the matter in order to explore the possibility of a retrial. Despite the postponement of the sentencing, Judge Brian Hill allowed a majority of the hearing to proceed, including sentencing arguments from prosecutor Joyce Dudley and half a dozen heartfelt impact statements from the victims’ friends and family.

The Tuesday morning hearing got off to an ominous start when the victim — a 30-year-old severely mentally disabled former resident of the Devereux School — became enraged and had to be escorted out of the room by her caregiver shortly after a shackled Thomas was brought into the courtroom. Baylash then asserted that he needed more time to look into a perceived discrepancy in the testimony of a key prosecution witness, Dr. Frank Alvarez. Given that the victim tested positive for syphilis while Thomas tests negative, Alvarez’s argument hinged on the time and type of STD test the victim received. According to his testimony, she tested positive for a non-contagious form of the disease, but Thomas’s research of court documents suggests that a second test was administered at some point by a different doctor in which the victim proved to be contagious.

Baylash explained, “I want to know whether she was contagious at the time of the abortion [approximately three months after the alleged rape]. If she were, I think the jury should have known that.” As a result, Baylash asked for the two-week continuance so he could review the trial transcripts, though he admitted after the hearing, “There really may be nothing to it.” For her part, Dudley considers the syphilis confusion little more than a “red herring,” and was quick to point out that DNA evidence directly linked Thomas to the aborted child and the jury needed little more than two hours to convict Thomas last month.

Continuances aside, the impact statements made at the hearing — which included testimony from the victim’s mother, brother, cousin, and caregiver — all urged the court to punish Thomas to the fullest extent of the law. As the victim’s brother put it, “He deserves more time in jail than he can get. … He abused his position of power and sexually preyed upon someone with the mental capacity of a 2- to 3-year-old.” Dudley echoed the family’s feelings, saying, “The defendant raped a helpless, voiceless victim. He clearly is a danger to society. He stops at nothing.”

Thomas will return to court on July 26. He faces a maximum of eight years in a state prison. Additionally, Thomas is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at the end of this month, in which he will face perjury charges for his testimony during the rape trial.

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