The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday upheld the rape and sexual assault convictions and 263-year prison sentence of a former Oklahoma City police officer whose case has been watched closely by the Black Lives Matter movement and some conservatives.
The court rejected appeals by 32-year-old Daniel Holtzclaw that included a lack of evidence, excessive sentence, prosecutorial misconduct, a “circus atmosphere” during his trial and a failure by the defense attorney to present a DNA expert to offer an alternative explanation to how DNA of one victim wound up on Holtzclaw’s pants.
Questions about DNA evidence were kept under seal by the court for 17 months because of personnel records that are confidential under Oklahoma law.
The DNA of one victim was found on Holtzclaw’s pants and, his appeals attorneys argued, could have gotten there through non-sexual contact known as “secondary transfer” DNA when he searched the 17-year-old victim’s purse.
Prosecutors accused Holtzclaw of targeting black women while on duty. He was convicted in 2015 on 18 charges involving 12 women and a teenage girl.
A 2015 Associated Press investigation highlighting the case found about 1,000 officers in the U.S. lost their licenses for sexual misconduct over a six-year period — considered an undercount because some states don’t have a method for banning problem officers.