Jules Letemps was convicted in November 1989 and sentenced to three life sentences for a sexual assault that occurred 6 months earlier in the predawn hours in Orlando Florida. The only evidence against Mr. Letemp’s was the victim of the assault who chose not to go to the hospital for evidence collection and instead when home and ultimately destroyed all evidence of the assault. She then returned to the crime scene with her cousin and other family members and saw Jules Letemps walking to work and identified him as her assailant. Mr. Letemps was arrested and was incarcerated for 27 years before his indictment was nolle prossed in October 2016.
July 27, 2015
After 27 years and 142 days of imprisonment for a crime he did not commit Jules Letemps was released from the custody of the Florida Department of Correction on October 18, 2016 when the State of Florida dismissed all charges against him. The dismissal of the charges was the culmination of Centurion’s six year fight to prove that Mr. Letemps was innocent of the May 29, 1989 sexual assault of a woman in Orlando, Florida. Incredibly, Mr. Letemps’ exoneration has not to date resulted in him regaining his freedom because of an immigration detainer that was filed against him two weeks after his arrest on the sexual assault charges. Instead of freedom after 27 years of wrongful incarceration Mr. Letemps was picked up on the detainer on October 18, 2016 and brought to an immigration detention center in Miami, Florida where he is presently detained pending removal proceedings. Mr. Letemps is a native of Haiti and pled guilty to a $20.00 cocaine delivery charge in 1987 for which he was given probationary and the removal proceeding instituted against him is based on his guilty plea in that case. Centurion has retained lawyers specializing in immigration law to represent Mr. Letemps and we are hopeful that in the very near future that a bond will be set freeing Mr. Letemps from detention.
At approximately 7:00 a.m. on May 29, 1989 26 year old Jules Letemps woke up to get ready for work cleaning cars at a local Toyota dealership in Orlando, Florida. He was living in an apartment with his “wife” Wendy Partee and their three children on Lake Mann Drive in Orlando. At approximately 7:30 a.m. he kissed Ms. Partee goodbye and left the apartment to begin his walk to the dealership. Mr. Letemps never made it to work and he never returned home to Ms. Partee and their three children, because as he walked from his apartment north onto Cottage Hill Road, a woman who had been sexually assaulted three hours earlier at a bus stop on Church Street and Cottage Hill Road, saw him walking and decided he was the one who had assaulted her. Based on the woman’s mis-identification Mr. Letemps was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to four life terms of imprisonment.
At his criminal trial Mr. Letemps defense was that he was home, with his three children, and in bed with his “wife” and that it was impossible for him to have been the assailant who repeatedly sexually assaulted the victim at 4:30 a.m. Mr. Letemps’ defense was supported by the testimony of his “wife” and a friend who was living with the Letemps family. Identification was the sole issue at trial and Mr.Letemps’ trial counsel had at her disposal the semen stain which was recovered from the robe the victim wore immediately following her assault, which excluded Mr. Letemps as being the assailant. Instead of using the evidence which proved Mr. Letemps’ innocence trial counsel moved to suppress any mention of it at the trial, because as the record plainly revealed she had no comprehension of the serological evidence and did nothing to investigate it. Had trial investigated the serological evidence she would have discovered that the scientist with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who tested the semen stain used the wrong standard in her testing resulting in an erroneous conclusion that she couldn’t exclude Mr. Letemps as being the rapist because she could not be sure there was enough seminal fluid present in the stain to be assured that the assailant’s blood group substances were being detected in the testing. In fact there was more than a sufficient amount of seminal fluid to be assured that the rapist blood group substances were being detected in the testing and that Mr. Letemps was excluded as being the rapist.
In 2010 Centurion’s Kate Germond and attorney Paul Casteleiro began investigating the case and discovered based of the serological or blood evidence that Mr. Letemps was excluded as being the assailant but that the evidence was never utilized by his attorney in his defense at trial. In fact the opposite happened, Mr. Letemps trial attorney actually moved at trial to suppress the evidence establishing Mr. Letemps’s innocence.
Armed with support nationally recognized serology experts who all maintained that Mr. Letemps was excluded as being the assailant based on the blood tying of the semen stain, Centurion presented its findings of Mr. Letemps actual innocence to the Florida State courts which rejected his claims as being untimely. Undeterred Centurion then presented the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in seeking for permission for Mr. Letemps to file a second or successive petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court arguing that he had evidence of his actual innocence and that he should be able to present his claim that his trial attorney was incompetent. The Eleventh Circuit agreed with Mr. Letemps and Centurion then presented its claims in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Branch. On July 20, 2015 United States District Court Judge Gregory A. Presnell granted the habeas petition and ordered a new trial. In granting the petition, the court stated that “Letemps has presented a credible claim of actual innocence. The unrebutted testimony of the robe’s owner…that no one other than himself wore the robe before he gave it to the victim established that either he or the rapist must have been the donor of the semen…found on it (and because neither the robe’s owner’s nor Letemps’ blood group substances were contained in the semen stain it means) that the rape was committed by someone other than Letemps.” Letemps v Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, 114 F. Supp. 3d 1216, 1225 (M.D. Fla., 2015) Judge Presnell went on to find that had Mr. Letemps trial attorney’s failure to investigate and present the serological evidence deprived him of his right to effective assistance of counsel and ordered that he be given a new trial.
The State did not appeal Judge Presnell’s decision and the case went back to the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orlando for retrial. There Centurion presented three nationally recognized serology experts who all stated based on the blood group testing that Jules Letemps was excluded to a scientific certainty as being the assailant meaning, as stated by Judge Presnell “the rape was committed by someone other than Letemps.” id.