Texas Appeals court rejects ex-BU player’s motion for a rehearing

Texas Appeals court rejects ex-BU player’s motion for a rehearing
Sam Ukwuachu (left) and his attorney, William Bratton III of Dallas, after a hearing in May 2020. (Source: John Carroll)

AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Wednesday rejected a motion filed by the attorney representing former Baylor University football player Sam Ukwuachu seeking a rehearing after the court reinstated Ukwuachu’s 2015 rape conviction for a second time and remanded the case to Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals in a ruling issued on Nov. 18, 2020.

Ukwuachu’s attorney, William Bratton, filed the motion for rehearing on Dec. 3, arguing the court’s decision was “based on a factually inaccurate statement of the events at trial and a legally inaccurate statement of applicable law.”

Bratton had argued that cellphone records that prosecutors used to impeach two defense witnesses resulted “in the introduction of false evidence in violation of his due process rights,” but in November the appeals court judges disagreed.

“The phone records at issue were never admitted into evidence nor made part of the record. Further, no expert testimony was introduced to establish that the state misled the jury regarding any particular information shown in the records. Without these phone records or such expert testimony, Appellant cannot prove that the state actually elicited witness testimony that conflicted with the substance of those records,” the court said in the ruling.

“Accordingly, appellant has failed to make the requisite showing of falsity that must underlie any false-evidence due process claim. We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the court of appeals granting Appellant a new trial, and we remand this case for consideration of appellant’s remaining issues on appeal,” the court said.

In August 2015, the one-time All-American who transferred to Baylor, but never played for the school, was found guilty of raping an 18-year-old female athlete in October 2013.

He could have been sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison, but jurors decided on probation and ultimately State District Judge Matt Johnson sentenced Ukwuachu to 10 years on probation, 180 days in county jail and ordered him to perform 400 hours of community service.

Ukwuachu was released from jail on a $100,000 appeal bond on Oct. 29, 2015.

On March 23, 2017, the Waco-based 10th Court of Appeals reversed the conviction based upon evidence that raised questions about some of the evidence presented in trial, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reinstated the conviction in July 2018, ruling the 10th court erred by overturning the conviction based on text messages between the victim and a friend that had not been allowed in trial.

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