OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorneys for a former Oklahoma City police officer convicted of sexually assaulting women while on duty have filed an appeal in the case.
The case grabbed national headlines after 13 Oklahoma City women accused former Oklahoma City Officer Daniel Holtzclaw of sexual attacks while on duty for the police department.
In August 2014, the state charged Holtzclaw with 36 felony counts of rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure and forcible oral sodomy after the 13 women came forward, claiming the officer assaulted them while they were in custody or inside his police car.
In all, the jury heard 13 accusers’ stories of assault.
Throughout the trial, state prosecutors talked about skin cells found inside and outside Holtzclaw’s pants, around the zipper area.
As detectives spoke with various accusers in their investigation, they explained to the jury they took DNA samples, trying to find a match to those skin cells.
Prosecutors say that match ultimately came from a then 17-year-old girl, who testified she was raped by the former officer outside her mother’s home.
Forensic analysts discussed how there was more DNA found near the zipper as well, but not enough to find a second full match.
In 2015, a jury convicted Holtzclaw of 18 felony charges involving eight of the 13 accusers.
He was sentenced to 263 years in prison.
After four extensions, Holtzclaw's defense team has filed an appeal in the case.
The defense claims that the prosecution had insufficient evidence, adding that "the alleged 'procuring lewd exhibition' occurred in public view; nor was there any evidence that the alleged rape and oral sodomy counts were accomplished by means of the use or threat of force or violence; and the evidence supporting the sexual battery counts was insufficient to allow any rational trier of fact to find the defendant guilty of those offenses beyond a reasonable doubt."
In their argument, they say the 'procuring lewd exhibition' charge did not fit the case due to the definition of the charge.
"In each instance alleged against Officer Holtzclaw, the alleged crime occurred at night, in or near Appellant's patrol car. There is no evidence in the record that anyone other than Appellant himself saw the alleged victim expose themselves," the defense argues.
Without another person seeing what is taking place, the defense claims that the charge shouldn't apply to the case.
"Clearly, the person or person viewing the exhibition and or/being sexually stimulated must be someone other [than] the person 'procuring' the exhibition or the one exposing herself. If not, then couples all over Oklahoma are committing felonies every time they get sexually intimate," the passage reads.
The appeal also shows that the defense argues with the rape and forcible oral sodomy charges because they say none of the women were explicitly threatened.
Court documents show the defense also claims that the state tried to prosecute Holtzclaw on too many counts with too many victims at one time, rather than providing adequate proof of each individual charge.
"Under the circumstances of this case, it was impossible for Appellant to have a fair trial when being forced to defend against thirty-six counts by thirteen alleged victims over the course of seven months. His conviction must therefore be reversed and remanded for a new trial," the appeal states.
Attorneys claim that the "circus atmosphere" surrounding the case also prevented their client from a fair trial, adding that prosecutors shifted the burden of proof to the defendant and 'misrepresented' the evidence in the case.
The documents also show that the defense claims the sentence is an 'unconstitutionally excessive sentence,' and asks that they be modified to run concurrently.
In an exclusive interview in November, Holtzclaw told NewsChannel 4 that he is confident he will get a new trial.
“I’m very confident in my appellate lawyers I'm confident in my team and the support that I have. I'm very blessed to have that. I'm confident that all the discovery we have found throughout the trial, I'm pretty positive I'm going to get a retrial,” Holtzclaw said.