SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In a rare admission of guilt from the Salt Lake County prosecutors’ office, District Attorney Sim Gill acknowledged major errors in two criminal cases and as a result, a convicted child sex abuser and a convicted drug dealer are off the hook.
Gill has petitioned the 3rd District Court to vacate their convictions.
If granted, a 2011 conviction of a Mexican national for child sexual battery and a 2008 conviction of a man from Honduras for drug distribution will be dismissed and legally, it’s as if they never happened.
A Conviction Integrity Panel ruled that both men were 17 at the time of the offense and should have been tried in juvenile court.
“There were mistakes that were made,” Gill said at a news conference Tuesday. “That were made by the prosecution, by defense counsel, court and those systemic mistakes erode the integrity of the convictions that we have…We have the ability to charge people but when we don’t follow the rules or we make mistakes then we have an ethical, legal, and moral duty to correct that as well.”
It’s unclear exactly how the wrong dates of birth put both defendants into adult court but Gill says this is about more than just two cases. It’s about fairness and public trust.
“If there are errors that are made then we have the first and foremost responsibility to acknowledge them and to correct them,” Gill said. “And through that process, learn from that so we don’t repeat those issues going forward.”