Rape conviction appeal moves forward

WOODSTOCK – A man convicted of rape in Shenandoah County last summer recently appealed his case to the Virginia Court of Appeals.

An appellate court judge on Friday granted Patrick J. Wakeman’s petition for an appeal that allows the case to move forward.

J. Lloyd Snook filed a petition for appeal with the court on March 19. Then-Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola filed a brief in opposition to the petition for appeal on March 26. An appellate court judge reviewed the petition and granted Wakeman’s request.

The Court of Appeals did not make Snook’s appeal or the prosecutor’s brief in opposition immediately available Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp sentenced Wakeman, 40, in September to serve life in prison for committing one count of rape against a 16-year-old girl. A jury three months earlier found Wakeman guilty of one of two counts of rape and recommended the punishment upheld by Hupp.

At Wakeman’s sentencing, Hupp denied a defense motion to set aside the jury’s verdict. Wakeman’s trial attorney, William B. Allen III, questioned the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence. Allen argued the Y-chromosomal DNA did not directly identify his client but rather only indicated Wakeman could not be excluded as a possible match. Allen argued that the court should not have allowed the Y-chromosal DNA test result into evidence. Hupp said he does consider Y-chromosomal DNA to be DNA evidence sanctioned in the statute.

Allen also argues in his motion that the jury’s verdict of not guilty on Wakeman’s second count of rape casts doubt on the finding of guilt on the other charge.

Allen also argues that the court erred when it denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case on speedy trial issues. The court addressed the question in an opinion letter dated March 17, 2017.

The court also erred in qualifying Rayner M. Balciunas as an expert sexual assault nurse examiner, Allen argued. The court abused its discretion under a state evidence rule in establishing Balciunas as an expert witness because she had not completed the testing and certification required for her field of practice as such an examiner. Allen cited Balciunas’ testimony at trial pertaining to a method of extracting material for testing in rape cases.

Campola, in his response to each of Allen’s arguments,  rebutted each of the defense attorney’s arguments.