Flawed VA Abduction Case Shows The Power Of Prosecutors


Prosecutors can prosecute even the weakest, most clearly flawed cases relentlessly, and innocent people can end up in jail, says Slate. This week, after two and a half years in jail, Mark Weiner of Charlottesville, Va., saw his conviction vacated by a judge. It ended a saga in which Weiner was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to eight years in jail on charges of abducting a woman with the intent to sexually harm her. The story began in 2012. Weiner, then a 52-year-old man who managed a local grocery store and attended night classes at a local community college, stopped and picked up 20-year-old Chelsea Steiniger, who was walking from a convenience store to her mother's house.

Steiniger accused Weiner of abducting her, but the evidence didn’t hold up and Steiniger later was arrested on a drug charge. Weiner lost his job and all of his savings in the process. Slate says the case “shows why innocent people get trapped in a system in which it is costless for prosecutors to make errors, while mistakes made by defense counsel at trial are virtually impossible to correct.” The story is critical of the elected local prosecutor, Denise Lunsford.

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