A McAlester man was released from custody today after his case was dismissed in Pittsburg County District Court.
Jeffrey Eugene Rowan, 30, was facing a child sexual abuse charge filed by the District 18 District Attorney’s Office in August of 2008. The charge accused Rowan of sexually abusing a 2-year-old girl in May of 2008.
In March of 2009, Rowan was convicted of the charge by a jury and was later sentenced to a 35-year prison term. Then, in June of 2011, his conviction was overturned by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and Rowan was remanded for a new trial.
According to court records, Rowan’s conviction was overturned because a state’s witness was allegedly abusing prescription narcotics at the time Rowan’s case was being investigated.
Stacy Scroggins, a physician assistant with PC Care, examined the 2-year-old child on Aug. 6, 2008. During her examination, Scroggins determined that the child showed various signs of being sexually abused, and according to court records, testified regarding her findings at Rowan’s trial.
Rowan’s attorney was later contacted by the District 18 District Attorney regarding Scroggins, who “had her license suspended for a drug problem and ... was being treated at an inpatient drug rehabilitation facility,” court documents state.
Rowan was then scheduled for the January 2012 jury docket, and was prepared to go back to trial to face his child sexual abuse charge.
On Jan. 10, the case was stricken from the jury docket and on Jan. 23 the District 18 District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to dismiss its case against Rowan.
In the motion, the state refers back to the Scroggins situation for one of the reasons for motioning to dismiss.
The state’s motion also refers to a situation with former Oklahoma Department of Human Services Child Welfare Specialist Amanda Britt. “The state believes there may be a current investigation by the McAlester Police Department regarding Amanda Britt ...” the motion states.
On Nov. 18, Britt was suspended with pay from her position with DHS pending an internal investigation, according to Sheree Powell, from the Oklahoma DHS Office of Communications. Then, on Dec. 16, Britt resigned from her position after DHS began investigative actions regarding a registered sexual offender living in her home. Mitchell R. Norman, 29, a convicted sex offender from Florida, pleaded no contest to charges that accused him of living in Britt’s home.
Finally, the state’s motion to dismiss the Rowan case then refers to a situation with former Pittsburg County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Martin, “who was assigned to the (Rowan) case as lead investigator.”
“Kevin Martin resigned from his position with the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office following an investigation involving conduct unbecoming an officer wherein it was alleged that Martin stated he would plant evidence,” the motion states.
After referring to Scroggins, Britt and Martin, three professionals that were heavily involved in the investigation of Rowan’s case, the state’s motion to dismiss indicates that the state anticipates that these three witnesses will invoke their 5th amendment right against self-incrimination, “and that the witnesses invocation of their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination in the presence of the jury would result in a mistrial with possible dismissal with prejudice ... the state would rather file a dismissal without prejudice, than risk a mistrial, mistrial with prejudice, or acquittal of the defendant.”
The alleged victim’s mother was informed of this and was also “advised about the possibility of re-filing charges (against Rowan) if there was newly discovered evidence,” the motion states.
The motion to dismiss was heard Wednesday, and granted, by Pittsburg County Associate District Judge James Bland.
In a later interview with the News-Capital, Rowan’s attorney Brecken Wagner said, “The motion to dismiss was filed by the state. I think that says it all.”
When asked if he anticipates this same problem arising in other cases involving state’s witnesses Scroggins, Britt and Martin, Hull responded, “The same issue could arise. We could run into this same issue in other cases.”
Earlier this year, District 18 Assistant District Attorney Wesley Cherry confirmed that he decided to reach a plea bargaining agreement with two other child sexual offenders due to the situations with the aforementioned state’s witnesses. Cherry said he would have preferred to take the two cases to trial and try for maximum sentencing, had he not been concerned with the situations with the state’s witnesses.
Contact Rachel Petersen at email@example.com.
For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smart phone.