OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has issued their opinion in the appeal from a former Oklahoma City police officer convicted for rape and other sexual assaults.
32-year-old Daniel Holtzclaw was appealing his 18 convictions and 263-year prison sentence.
On Thursday, the court ruled Daniel’s appeal was denied.
Judge David Lewis of the court of criminal appeals said, in his opinion, “This case involves a sexual predator who happened to be employed, most unfortunately, as a Oklahoma City police officer.”
Daniel’s family addressed the media after the decision and said it was tough to read those words about him.
“He got caught up in what the initial investigator said after a one-hour interview, labeling him a predator or a sexual deviant,” said Daniel’s dad, Eric Holtzclaw. “How can a police detective make that kind of assessment?”
The Holtzclaw family also vowed to continue the fight to free Daniel.
“We know this is a long road ahead of us. We were hoping it wouldn’t take that long and we would be able to get right into a new trial,” said Daniel’s sister, Jenny Holtzclaw. “We are hoping for the next good outcome on our next step in freeing him.”
Lawyers representing the seven of the victims also held a press conference. They said the court’s decision was a huge win for their clients.
“They have worried each and every day about the prospects of Daniel Holtzclaw, either getting out of prison or even getting a new trial,” said Damario Solomon-Simmons, “which would require our clients to go back to court and go all through the process and testify again.”
Solomon-Simmons said he hopes the decision can provide his clients some relief.
“They are suffering through what happened to them each and every day, each and every day,” Solomon-Simmons said, “trying to get back to a level of personal security, personal integrity and try to heal as best they can.”
The case grabbed national headlines after 13 Oklahoma City women accused Daniel of sexual attacks while on duty for the police department.
In August 2014, the state charged Daniel 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 Daniel’s pants, around the zipper area.
As detectives spoke with various accusers in their investigation, they explained to the jury that they took DNA samples, trying to find a match to those skin cells.
Prosecutors said the 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 Daniel of 18 felony charges involving eight of the 13 accusers.
Daniel was sentenced to 263 years in prison.
His defense team ultimately filed an appeal, challenging the evidence used in the case and the “circus atmosphere” surrounding the trial. Daniel’s team said the DNA evidence used in the case could have gotten on his clothes through non-sexual contact.
In an exclusive interview in November of 2016, Daniel told News 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,” he said.