(Lander, Wyo.) – A registered sex offender facing rape and kidnapping charges from last fall changed his plea yesterday to not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency because he believes he had been drugged the evening of the crimes.
Ninth District Court Judge Norman E. Young allowed Jeremy Williams to change his plea yesterday after hearing arguments from the state and Williams’s defense. Williams pleaded not guilty in December to five felony crimes: Kidnapping-confinement, Strangulation of a Household Member, First Degree Sexual Assault, Attempted First Degree Sexual Assault and Failure to Notify Sheriff’s Office of Change of Vehicle. Both sexual assault charges carry maximum penalties of 50 years in prison.
Williams’s attorney, Dan Caldwell, said new information surfaced in January that indicates his client might have been involuntarily intoxicated the night of the crimes. Getting intoxicated on purpose is not a valid defense, but if he had been drugged against his will that would be relevant to the case, Caldwell argued.
He said that an investigator tracked down another man who as at the same bar the night of the crimes who experienced similar instances of extreme intoxication without having drunk very much. Both the other man and Williams said they didn’t remember much of the evening in question. Caldwell said this other man committed a domestic assault that night, which his wife claimed was out of the ordinary. Caldwell says this indicates that something might have been put in both men’s drinks without their knowledge that caused them to lose control of their faculties. He is working with a lab in Texas to test hair samples for possible traces of so-called date-rape drugs.
Fremont County Deputy Attorney Ember Oakley claimed that the domestic assault by the other suspect was not out of the ordinary and said that he had pleaded guilty and provided an account of the events, indicating he did not lose his memory.
“I’ve never heard of someone rape because of a date-rape drug,” she said, calling the plan a “meritless defense.”
The Wyoming Supreme Court has allowed a defense of not guilty by reason of mental illness due to an involuntary intoxication, and therefore Young allowed Williams and Caldwell to pursue it. Due to the procedures involved with such a defense, the trial has been suspended.
Read more background on the case here.