Spicher seeks new trial
by Mike Kroll
Knox County Public Defender James Harrell has filed a request for a new trial on behalf of Leonard Spicher, an East Galesburg man convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse on January 16th following a bench trial before Circuit Judge James Stewart. Spicher was found guilty of paying two teenage boys to perform oral sex on him at his home on July 22, 2008. In a case with no physical evidence, Stewart acknowledged that his verdict was based largely on the testimony of the boys and a that of a neighbor who testified that she saw one of the boys naked and alone on a bed in Spicher's home. It was the neighbor who called police.
Harrell's request is based on inconsistencies between statements made by the two boys and the neighbor prior to the trial and their trial testimony coupled with the absence of any physical evidence supporting the charges. Spicher claims that he did not engage in any form of sexual behavior with either boy and that they merely made up the story to avoid criminal charges for home invasion and burglary. During the January trial the boys admitted in court that they had gone to Spicher's home with the intent of robbing him, entering without Spicher's knowledge or consent.
After searching Spicher's home while he slept and failing to find any cash, the boys testified in court that they then offered to perform oral sex for payment. Harrell says that in two early statements to investigating officers one of the boys told police that he did not have sex with Spicher despite testifying to the contrary. At least one of these earlier statements was recorded by police, according to Harrell, and the boy was pressured to change his testimony when officials told him to “tell the truth or he could be charged with a felony.” The second boy testified that both boys performed oral sex for money.
The neighbor who called police acknowledged in court that she did not see either boy engage in sex with Spicher or had even seen Spicher in the same room with the boy she believed to be naked. In other testimony the neighbor said she could only see the boy's head and could not determine if his clothes were on or off, according to Harrell's motion. Additionally, Harrell contends that the two accounts offered by the boys are themselves inconsistent in numerous details and thus call into question the veracity of these witnesses.
In a case almost wholly dependent upon the conflicting eyewitness testimony of the two boys and a window-peeping neighbor and where the defendant has no previous criminal record and who consistently offered a plausible alternative story otherwise consistent with the available evidence, Harrell believes there exists substantial cause for a new trial. No action has yet been taken on the motion that was filed January 20th.