Thursday, August 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Solano judge tosses rape conviction, sets new trial

By
From page A3 | January 25, 2014 |

VALLEJO — Johnny E. Tatum was sitting a week ago in jail waiting to receive a life sentence for raping a 15-year-old girl, the daughter of his ex-girlfriend.

Judge Dwight Ely this week took the extraordinary step of throwing out a jury’s guilty verdict, reached after two days of deliberation in July 2013. Ely also threw out Tatum’s conviction on rape and gun charges.

Tatum was in court briefly Friday – he remains locked up since his 2011 arrest – and heard prosecutors say they want a new trial on the same charges for Tatum. Ely scheduled the trial for March.

John Coffer, Tatum’s defense attorney, is troubled the District Attorney’s Office is still pursuing the case against Tatum, even after its own investigation turned up evidence that the 15-year-old accuser conspired with her mother to make up the rape claim.

Coffer, a former prosecutor who is widely regarded as one of the area’s top criminal defense attorneys, turned up text messages from the accuser’s mother to Tatum’s wife sent five weeks after the trial in which she mocked Tatum’s wife and admitted to putting her daughter up to lying.

Before Ely threw out the conviction, the mother took the witness stand and invoked her right against self-incrimination as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer questions about the text messages.

“I have no doubt that the DA’s Office will not prosecute the complaining witness for perjury nor will a case be brought against the mother for putting her up to it,” Coffer said. “It is in my view very damaging to the justice system that this act, which does corrupt the system, will go unpunished, and unheard of by the public. I am concerned that the public will never know how much damage was almost done to an innocent man in its name.”

Prosecutors concede that the damning text messages are probably from the girl’s mother but say there’s some uncertainty, therefore the messages should be ignored.

The case against Tatum began in early 2011 when the girl told a Sacramento sheriff’s deputy that she had been raped nearly a year earlier by Tatum in his car, which was parked in an isolated spot along the Vallejo waterfront. Seven months later, shortly before Tatum’s arrest, a Vallejo officer interviewed the girl a second time and while some of her story changed, she still said Tatum had a gun with him at the time of the attack.

During Tatum’s trial, the girl took the witness stand and described what Tatum did to her. Her testimony was about the only evidence jurors saw from prosecutors. Throughout her testimony, she was facing away from the jury and she kept her face covered with her hands.

Coffer described the girl’s time on the witness stand as “farcical,” adding that after she was done the prosecutor told him and Ely that he was thinking about dropping the charges against Tatum. Instead, the prosecutor put the girl’s foster mother on the witness stand. She testified that the girl showed her text messages on her cellphone from Tatum, mentioning the rape. The foster mother said she lost the phone in her house, which she said was too messy for her to find it.

A second trial, while scheduled, is not a certainty. Prosecutors recently told Coffer the accuser cannot be found and has fled her foster home for parts unknown.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or jsullivan@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Skeptic ScroogeJanuary 25, 2014 - 4:02 am

    If Tatum texted about the rape to the victim, depending on the wireless carrier, the texts could be subpoenaed. I know att keeps records of all outgoing texts. So if Tatum had att, he could prove his innocence....or not...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • sammyJanuary 25, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    i smell setup for sure by this little brat n her 2 moms how can ex b so hateful n can make her daughter lie n this little worm isn't even good at her lies.?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RalphJanuary 25, 2014 - 3:11 pm

    Obviously there is more to this case then what is being told here. Is there a Jury? and when did this happen? Hire a lawyer and convict that kid.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Railroad crossing stalemate continues

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 10 Comments

 
First day back to school brings laughter, jitters

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Potrero Hills Landfill legal appeals exhausted

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Breakfast after the Bell wins support

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2, 5 Comments

 
Suisun city employees get pay raise

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield candidates hear about lean, nimble city staff

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

Free e-waste collection to benefit Scarlet Brigade

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield mayor to appear at GOP dinner

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

Girls on the Run seeks volunteer life coaches

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

 
College finalizes police department takeover, OKs bond plan

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Weather for Aug. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

Fairfield police log: Aug. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

.

US / World

Militants use British killer as propaganda

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Governor criticizes new-hire pension enhancements

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

US mission to rescue hostages in Syria failed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
US official: More airstrikes in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Beheading spurs new attacks on Islamic militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 10 Comments

 
School sorry for making special ed kids sort trash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Police seek mystery pair in selfies after burglary

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Teens deny threatening boy in school shooting plot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Panel OKs state librarian despite initial concerns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
North Korea insults John Kerry over his looks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 3 Comments

Ukrainian govt troops take over much of Luhansk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Picture emerges of officer in Ferguson shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 9 Comments

Navy kicks out 34 for nuke cheating

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

 
CHP says officer may face serious beating charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

8 homes destroyed, 1,500 threatened by wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Drought has state debating its unregulated pumping

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Holder says he understands mistrust of police

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 5 Comments

 
Liberian slums barricaded as Ebola sets new record

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
California needs pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 7 Comments

Tell the story, don’t be it

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A7

 
 
We’re spending way too much on raising our kids

By Megan Mcardle | From Page: A7

.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Aug. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Why do parents drink alcohol after their children’s games?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
Emmys: Billy Crystal to pay tribute to Williams

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

And the Emmy winners are…? We’re happy to guess!

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Aniston, Hamm, Hudson set to Stand Up to Cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Peavy pitches Giants to 8-3 win over Cubs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
WR Stevie Johnson adds depth to 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Fairfield boxer Avila set to put perfect 15-0 record on the line

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Giants win protest, rain-shortened game to resume Thursday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

A’s stumble and must regroup with Angels coming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders FB Reece’s injury not as bad as feared

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Reality check for Phelps at Pan Pacific Champs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kent State starting center dies at 21

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Serena Williams seeded No. 1 at US Open; Halep 2nd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tony Stewart skipping 3rd straight race after Ward’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Las Vegas spoils Mo’ne’s night, beats Philly 8-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sharks F Torres undergoes surgery on right knee

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

US routs Dominicans in exhibition as Rose rests

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Schilling blames chewing tobacco for mouth cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sports on TV for Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B4

 
This date in sports history for Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

.

Business

BofA reaches $17B settlement with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Brine firm sues over biblical fracking billboard

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Apple’s stock bounces back to hit a new high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Obituaries

David G. Gibson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Charles (Chuck) H. Doty

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9