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Prosecutor thwarts prisoner's release

Published June 12, 2007


ATLANTA - An unrelenting tough-on-crime law aimed at sex offenders sent Genarlow Wilson to prison on a mandatory 10-year term for a consensual sex act at 17 with a 15-year-old girl.

Now - even after a state judge called the punishment "a grave miscarriage of justice" and ordered the former high school football star released - an unwavering prosecutor means to make that sentence stick.

Cheers went up Monday morning from the legal team for Wilson, now 21, after the judge issued his order.

But 90 minutes later the mood in the Wilson camp was sober as Georgia's attorney general announced that he would appeal. Wilson wouldn't be walking out of prison Monday after all.

In his notice of appeal, Attorney General Thurbert Baker argued that Georgia law does not give a judge authority to reduce or modify the sentence imposed by the trial court. He said he would seek an expedited ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court.

He also noted that a plea deal is on the table that would spring Wilson in a maximum of five years and keep his name off the sex offender registry.

Wilson's lawyer, B.J. Bernstein, said her office was seeking bail for Wilson to let him to leave prison while his appeal is pending.

Wilson, a former honor student and homecoming king, has become a cause celebre. His sentence has been denounced by members of the jury that convicted him and the author of the 1995 law that put him behind bars.

[Last modified June 12, 2007, 02:09:58]

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