Prosecutors have dropped a case against a Durango man accused of participating in a gang rape-style sexual assault – the second suspect to have charges dropped.
Assistant District Attorney Sean Murray asked District Court Judge William Herringer on Sept. 20 to dismiss a felony sexual assault charge against Devin Bond, 23, who spent 19 months in La Plata County Jail on $50,000 bail, said Katie Whitney, his Durango defense lawyer.
A 12-person jury could not reach a unanimous decision in Bond’s case after a weeklong trial held in May. Whitney said “the case kind of fell apart” because of “a basic failure to investigate this case by the government, by the people prosecuting.”
“... He lost his life when he went to jail,” Whitney said of her client. “You take somebody’s liberty for 19 months, they have to rebuild their lives – plus you’re traumatized by the whole experience. I don’t think people understand what this does to a person to have their liberty taken like that. They have to rebuild everything.”
District Attorney Christian Champagne said, “We’ve certainly investigated the case. We’ve done everything appropriate and necessary to do a factual investigation, even going above and beyond standard operating procedure.”
Prosecutors discovered new information as they investigated the case that led law enforcement to drop charges, but Champagne declined to discuss specifics.
The district attorney also declined to provide details about prosecutors’ decision to drop charges or how prosecutors went “above and beyond standard operating procedure” because of anticipated litigation from a co-defendant.
Law enforcement accused Bond and two others, James Zink and Anthony Fitts, of sexually assaulting a woman at gunpoint on the night of Oct. 14, 2017, in a vehicle that was driven to various locations around Durango. Zink and Fitts pleaded guilty.
Judge Herringer sentenced Zink, 19 at the time, to 14 years in prison for second-degree assault and 10 years’ probation on two counts of attempted sexual assault. The judge also required Zink to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
The District Attorney’s Office anticipates litigation challenging Zink’s guilty plea “in short order,” Champagne said.
The court released Fitts from his six-year prison sentence in May after the alleged victim testified in Bond’s trial that the sexual contact between her and Fitts was consensual. Murray called Fitts’ conviction a “manifest injustice” in an unopposed motion to nullify the court’s decision to send him to prison for six years.