EXCLUSIVE: Columbus man remains jailed despite winning appeal

EXCLUSIVE: Columbus man remains jailed despite winning appeal

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Rape charges are reversed after a Columbus man spends more than three decades in jail.

Paul Tyner, convicted of rape in 1981, won his appeal in November because the judge in his original trial violated his sixth amendment right by denying him access to legal counsel but still remains in jail.

We're told Tyner is still in jail because convictions being reversed does not mean he was found innocent; it means he has the right to a new trial.

We spoke exclusively to Tyner's son Shawn Raleigh about his father's case.

"I remember in kindergarten being taken out of class to go to the court hearing when I was 5 years old," Raleigh said.  

Raleigh, the oldest of Tyner's four children, is patiently waiting for the next decision to be made in his father's case.

In 1981 Tyner was convicted of rape but an error was made by the judge during trial. Tyner started the trial with an attorney.

Near the end Tyner asked to represent himself but shortly after requested his legal counsel back. That request was denied by the judge, violating his sixth amendment right. 

"He filed a bunch of a documents and tried to get people to pay attention to the fact he had never had an appeal and honestly I think everything just slipped through the cracks," said Aimee Maxwell, Executive Director of the Georgia Innocence Project.

Maxwell says Tyner requested an appeal but his attorney never filed it.

It would be 34 years before his case would go to appeals court.

"So they filed the appeal and he won," Maxwell said. "What the Supreme Court did, they reversed his conviction."

Lee Williams, who has been a friend of Tyner's for more than 45 years, was considered a witness in Tyner's trial. Williams says there were some other discrepancies in the case that he never understood.

"We were called and told to come and when we came they told us to get up and go out in the hall," Williams said. "We paced the hall and they never called us as a witness. So I was one of the ones that was a witness but they never called."

Tyner's convictions were reversed two months ago, and now his son says he's waiting for the district attorney's office to decide if his father will have a new trial.

"He's missed out on a lot," Raleigh said. "He's missed out on his grandkids being born, nieces and nephews being born, 34 Christmases, 34 Thanksgivings, he's missed out on a whole lot."

We reached out to Public defender Vickie Novak, who says because this case was tried in the 1980s, it's going to take a lot of time to set up a new trial because they'll have to find the witnesses and evidence that were presented in the original trial 30 years ago.

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