Quentin Carter, 40, maintained his innocence throughout nearly 17 years in prison following his conviction of the 1991 rape of a 10-year old child. He was likely denied parole numerous times because he would not express remorse for a crime he didn’t commit.
Carter was 16 when convicted. He was released in 2008 but was registered as a sex offender with all the restrictions this designation carries.
Kent County (MI) Prosecutor William Forsyth was instrumental in vacating Carter’s wrongful conviction, which occurred by order of a judge last Thursday. Forsyth discovered that the child victim, Carter’s neighbor at the time of the rape, had been beaten, abused, and allegedly forced to falsely accuse Carter by the actual perpetrator, her mother’s boyfriend, Aurelias Marshall. Now in her 30s, the victim revealed all of this to Forsyth in the course of his reopened investigation of the unsolved 1990 murder in Grand Rapids of Joel Battaglia.
The rape victim reportedly tried to tell authorities the truth after Carter’s trial, but they didn’t believe her recantation. Forsyth responded differently. He and detectives spent countless hours reinvestigating the case. Consequently, the prosecutor became convinced of Carter’s innocence and filed the motion to vacate his conviction.
Meanwhile, Marshall was apprehended and tried for the murder of Mr. Battaglia. Marshall was convicted on June 8, 2015, and is expected to be sentenced to life without parole.
As reported by ABC affiliate (here), Forsyth acknowledged his office originally charged Carter and sought his conviction years ago.
“I fully recognize…that neither my apology nor the setting aside of his conviction can begin to adequately compensate Mr. Carter for what he has lost,” Forsyth wrote in a statement. “Tragically, there is nothing that can be done to restore his youth or return to him the years spent in prison.”
While this is certainly true, Mr. Forsyth provides an example of important, just outcomes that can result from pursuing truth wherever it leads, even post-conviction, even after a sentence is completed. A cold murder case is resolved; a conviction error is corrected; the perpetrator of two terrible crimes is identified and stopped; an innocent man is exonerated. Thank you, Mr. Forsyth, and congratulations, Mr. Carter.
Read more about this case at the National Registry of Exonerations (here).