FORREST CITY, AR (abc24.com) - An Arkansas man charged with raping an 8-day-old is in the clear, completely in the clear, because of what prosecutors are calling a "clerical error."
"The fact remains an injustice was done, because clerical errors were made by human beings," said Forrest City Prosecutor Fletcher Long.
Reginald Davis was arrested in September 2008 and charged with raping an 8-day-old. Shortly after his arrest, he was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation.
That mental evaluation determined Davis was unfit to stand trial.
About a year later, another evaluation of Davis determined he was fit to stand trial.
"Nobody did anything wrong on purpose, nobody tried to mess the system up," Long said.
In the forensic report filed with the court on September 10, 2009, a forensic psychologist with the Arkansas State Hospital wrote, "Due to mental disease he lacked the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct."
But, in a letter filed with the court 18 days later, the forensic psychologist wrote, "I discovered that the forensic report on the above-named defendant contained an error."
It goes on to say, "The last sentence should read: He did not lack the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct," then adding, "I hope this correction has not inconvenienced the court."
Prosecutors say they didn't realize Davis had been ruled fit to stand trial, or that as he sat in jail, the clock was ticking.
That is key, because as a defendant, Davis has a right to a speedy trial. Courts have set that threshold at 600 days in jail.
Days spent in jail don't count if the defendant is ruled unfit to stand trial. But, once that changes, as it did for Davis, that clock starts ticking again.
In February, Jennifer Collins, Davis' attorney, asked a judge to drop the charge because prosecutors had taken too long to bring the case to trial. Collins argued Davis has been denied his right to a speedy trial.
Circuit Judge L.T. Simes II agreed.
In a two-page opinion, Simes wrote, "The Court finds that speedy trial has run and the Court has lost jurisdiction to proceed in this case."
Not only were the charges dropped, they can't be re-filed.
"I hated that it happened, whoever who did, whatever happened, I wasn't there, I wish it hadn't happened to her and I'm sorry it happened that way," said Jacqueline Smith, Reginald's mother.
Prosecutors had 30 days to appeal the Judge's decision.
Long says because the error was clerical and not a matter of a legal error, appealing it would not have changed the outcome.
"Next time, every time, we will look through the file not once, not twice, not three times to try and discover no clerical errors are made. But guess what, they will be," said Long.