Help me get clemency for Aleck Carpitcher.

Four years ago I wrote here about Aleck Carpitcher, a Roanoke man who is spending his tenth year in prison for a crime that all parties involve agree that he didn’t commit. Why’s he still in there? Virginia’s 21-day-rule says you only have twenty one days post-sentencing to enter new evidence of actual innocence. He was convinced on the strength of a single accuser, who later admitted that she made it up because she didn’t like him. (He was a live-in boyfriend of her mother’s, which is admittedly 90% of the criteria for “asshole.” But that’s not the same as “criminal.”) Carpitcher is facing another 28 years in prison, and under the state’s legal standards, there are only two people who can do anything about it.

The latest news is that The Innocence Project has applied for clemency from Governor Kaine, since only Kaine and President Bush possess the power to release him from prison. The Roanoke Times editorialized strongly in favor of clemency on Friday, and understandably enough—there is no logic by which this man should spend another day in prison. This isn’t a “soft on crime” matter; there was no crime.

To find out more about this miscarriage of justice, see The Roanoke Times’ collection of past coverage of the case. But more useful still would be to e-mail Governor Kaine and ask him to pardon Carpitcher. And, those of you reading this in the governor’s office, I hope you’ll see what you can do.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

4 replies on “Help me get clemency for Aleck Carpitcher.”


    From reading the above summary of his 2006 petition, we learn that Carpitcher has a past that includes statutory rape for which he was shot in the back (1987 Oklahoma case), there was a dropped rape charge in 1982 involving a nineteen year-old, and then the girl who accused him here in Virginia, has recanted the part of her testimony involving actual rape, but did include in one of the re-tellings that Carpitcher had invited her to “touch his penis” (while he was urinating)but that she did not do it.

    The reason given for denying Carpitcher’s latest petition was that he failed to prove which testimony from the girl was a lie. So the burden placed on this fellow, is to not only prove that the girl was lying in the original trial, but to prove which version of her testimony was true in subsequent testimonies; all of which must be accomplished from his location behind the bars of a State Prison cell.

    Our jails are filled with men who have far thinner cases against them. In the case of Carpitcher, he has been convicted by a jury using the age-old, yet unwritten axiom of Virginia (in)Justice, that says, if you are charged with a crime, you must be guilty of something, so you may as well be imprisoned.

    Virginia juries and our judges pull this sort of crap all of the time.

    That his accuser now adamantly and repeatedly has stated that she made up the rape just to get rid of Carpitcher is being ignored based on the flimsy basis that the Court says that they can’t tell whether the girl was lying then or lying now.

    If the supposed injured party steadfastly claims that no injury occurred, then it is a moot point whether she is a liar or not. The Commonwealth has no business placing a higher level burden of proof on Mr. Carpitcher than it used in the first trial; that being the sole testimony of the child. Whether her testimony was tainted then or tainted now, is not relevant since she, the supposed injured party, now is certain that no injury occurred and hence no crime was committed, beyond the wrongful prosecution of Mr. Carpitcher.

    The fact that Mr. Carpitcher once had sex with a fourteen year-old and got a bullet in his back for the trouble, certainly casts doubts on his general character. However, his past does not mean that he committed the crime for which he was convicted here in Virginia. Creepy, maybe, but not guilty.

  2. I’ve had a hunch that part of the reason that this charge stuck was that Carpitcher is quite likely a creep (or, at best, somebody who I wouldn’t particularly like), and the information you’ve provided would seem to confirm that. But I couldn’t agree more with the basic sentiment that you espouse: creepiness is not a crime. This sort of thing undermines public trust in our legal system.

  3. Nothing in his past is relevant to this case. The bottom line here is that this sounds worse than any 3rd world country-a man in prison based SOLELY on the testimony of an 11 year old girl. No rape kit, no nurse, no anything but her testimony and a sorry court appointed lawyer given the case just minutes before trial!

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