Saturday, October 25, 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

 
 
Fall Harvest Festival brings children back to school

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
No new murder trial for Calkins, judge rules

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Optimist Club brings youth together for Halloween golf

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Cut-a-thon to help fight cancer, abuse

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
School board candidates forum set next week

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

Haunted hikes offered for brave souls at park

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Staying active may prolong your life

By Scott Anderson | From Page: B8

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

.

US / World

Suspect arrested in death of 2 California deputies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
KC-10 from Travis lands in Houston, smoke in cockpit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Reagan astrologer, Joan Quigley, dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Jury says castrated sex offender should be freed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Remains belong to missing Virginia student

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Dallas nurse receives thanks, hug from Obama

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

School gunman was Homecoming prince, students say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Lava creeps toward road on Hawaii’s Big Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

NY, NJ order Ebola quarantine for doctors, others

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Gunman in Canada attack complained about mosque

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Egypt declares emergency in northern Sinai

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Militant group said to be using chlorine bombs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Putin accuses US of undermining global stability

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Opinion

Vote, and make a difference

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Yes on Measure A

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Spering best choice for county supervisor

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Return Garamendi to Congress

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 25, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
SEIU shouldn’t own Board of Supervisors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My mother-in-law wants me to convert to Catholicism, but I don’t want to

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Hello Kitty turning 40, and the birthday bash will be ‘supercute’

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

 
TLC cancels its ‘Honey Boo Boo’ series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

P.D. James’ riff on Jane Austen comes to TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Sports

Hamilton helps Vanden sink Vallejo, 35-0

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

 
Vintage rolls past Armijo, 55-8

By Mike Corpos | From Page: B1

Mustangs fall flat in rout by Wildcats

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1

 
Royals beat Giants 3-2 for 2-1 World Series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Vargas to take on Vogelsong in Game 4 of Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Falcons hang with Wolves in 34-8 setback

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Judge halts New Jersey’s sports betting plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Joe Maddon exercises opt-out, won’t return to Rays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jamie McMurray bests Chase drivers to win pole

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Attorney: NFL, Ravens not helping union in Rice probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

SCC women’s soccer team falls to Mendocino 3-1

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Unfazed, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh doing it his way

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lloyd leads US women past Mexico 3-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders’ Woodley, Young expected to be placed on IR

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Henley’s putting gets him lead at Sea Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

Procter & Gamble taking out its batteries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
UPS expects double-digit surge in Dec shipments

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

US new-home sales close to flat in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
US official: Auto safety agency under review

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Ford profit falls in third quarter on truck costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

Mark Dean Lindsay

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Dr. Robert M. Takamoto

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Melvin Tate

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Home Seller 10/25/14

Real estate transactions for Oct. 25, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2