“Words matter”: Appeals court overturns Sheboygan Falls man’s child sex assault conviction
MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - “Words matter.” That’s what a state appeals court said when it overturned the child sex assault conviction of a Sheboygan Falls man because a detective told him he would not be able to testify at trial if he asked for a lawyer during questioning.
The Court of Appeals District II reversed the conviction of Daniel Rejholec, saying Sheboygan Police Det. Eric Edison made a “constitutional misrepresentation of Rejholec’s rights under the Fifth Amendment.”
The court remanded the case to circuit court and granted Rejholec’s motion to suppress statements made after the investigator’s false statements.
At one hour and seven minutes into the interrogation, the investigator told Rejholec, “You’re not going to get a chance to tell your story. So the jury is never going to hear your side of the story. I’m trying to give you an opportunity to tell your side of the story before it’s too late to be able to do that.”
After that, Rejholec gave “incriminating statements.”
“The Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent in the face of government accusation is a substantive right and a ‘hallmark of our democracy,’” reads the court’s opinion.
In 2018, Rejholec pleaded no contest to a charge of Repeated Sexual Assault of the Same Child. He was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Rejholec will be able to give a motion to the circuit court to withdraw his plea.
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