Evidence delays result in dismissal of cases against sex offender program clientSixth District Court Judge Robert Macaulay dismissed two criminal cases in Carlton County Court this week against Minnesota Sex Offender Program client Sarprio B.B. Doranti because the county attorney’s office had repeatedly failed to provide evidence to defense attorney Terri Port Wright.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Sixth District Court Judge Robert Macaulay dismissed two criminal cases in Carlton County Court this week against Minnesota Sex Offender Program client Sarprio B.B. Doranti because the county attorney’s office had repeatedly failed to provide evidence to defense attorney Terri Port Wright.
The case was dismissed “with prejudice,” which means that prosecutors cannot bring an action on the same claim.
Although Doranti was scheduled for a jury trial on several charges Tuesday, the trial was not held. Macaulay heard arguments on Port Wright’s motion to dismiss two of the cases, one that dated to October 2009 and the other to February 2010.
According to the criminal complaint on the February 2010 charges — which included felony terroristic threats as well as misdemeanor damage to property, misdemeanor indecent exposure and misdemeanor dangerous weapons — on Feb. 17, 2010, Doranti was a patient in the high-security unit of the MSOP-Moose Lake facility when staff observed him damaging the walls by scraping them and rubbing ink and feces on them. He allegedly had at least two metal shanks that he had sharpened to a point. They appeared to be made out of metal from an eyeglasses case and a nail clipper, the complaint said.
Also in the complaint: Doranti made numerous threats toward nearby security staff. When two female staff members tried to reason with him, he threatened to kill one and blow up her home and exposed himself to the other.
According to court officials, Macaulay granted the motion to dismiss all of the above charges as well as the October 2009 charge of felony terroristic threats “for failure to comply with the court rules and Judge Wolf’s order for discovery set in December.”
According to Port Wright, she had asked the county attorney’s office for disclosure of the evidence many times since she began representing MSOP clients in late summer 2010.
“Some of these cases are 28 months old. We were in court on omnibus cases eight times on some,” Port Wright said after the hearing, indicating that the failure of the prosecution to share the evidence with the defense was partly to blame for the delays. “Then Judge Wolf set a drop-dead deadline of Dec. 21 for turning evidence over, and there was still nothing.”
James Ross argued the case for the county attorney’s office Tuesday, though the cases were originally handled by Dennis Genereau Jr., who left the county attorney’s office in October to take a position as county coordinator. Within two months of Generau’s leaving, another long-time assistant county attorney, Nichole Carter, also resigned, leaving the county attorney’s office seriously understaffed.
Although Carlton County Commissioners authorized County Attorney Thom Pertler to hire one new assistant county attorney, that process is ongoing.
Neither Ross nor Pertler responded to requests for comment.