Less than a month after declaring Thalmus Williams “innocent” in the rape of a 12-year old girl, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office has filed two new charges against him for the same crime.
In explaining the startling about-face, the DA’s Office said only that it had received “additional DNA test results.”
Williams now faces life in prison on charges of first-degree rape. He is accused of attacking the pre-teen on June 5, 2016, inside an apartment where he stayed on occasion. The girl told her mother that Williams, whom she knew, had sexually assaulted her, and she was taken to a hospital, according to police.
Williams, 37, was first arrested in February 2017. He remained in custody for over a year as Orleans Public Defenders attorneys sought to win his release.
Prosecutors initially said that DNA tests performed at the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory showed inconclusive results. Williams’ attorneys said that examiners at the lab should have been able to conclude, from the same tests, that Williams was innocent.
Williams’ defense team also filed a motion in November questioning the girl’s credibility. The defense attorneys said in a request for the girl’s medical records that they believed she “may have previously falsified a report of sexual assault” in 2014.
Eventually, the state lab recommended referring DNA samples from a sexual assault examination of the girl to a private lab in Pennsylvania that uses an advanced technique. That lab determined that seminal fluid collected from the girl could not have come from Williams.
Prosecutors immediately moved to dismiss the charges against Williams. A spokesman for the DA’s Office said he was “innocent" and the accuser’s account of the assault had been “disproved.”
Yet within days of his release, Williams was back in legal jeopardy. Assistant District Attorney Mary Glass sought and obtained two charges of first-degree rape against Williams on May 10.
Prosecutors did not offer further details on the new DNA test results that led to the more recent indictment.
Orleans Public Defenders attorney Sean Collins said last month that two experts hired by the defense had questioned the state lab's original, inconclusive results.
“It’s going to change the way I approach anything I get from State Police Crime Lab on my current cases and my future cases,” Collins said.
Williams appeared in court on Friday for his arraignment, where he pleaded not guilty.
Although bail was set at $2 million at the time of the new indictment, Criminal District Court Judge Benedict Willard lowered the amount to $200,000 at Williams' arraignment.
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