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Prosecutor accused of misconduct in Oconee Co. rape trial was similarly accused a decade ago

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

Western Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Robert Schollmeyer

By Joe Johnson

A prosecutor who withheld evidence that last week resulted in an Oconee County rape case mistrial apparently has a history of prosecutorial misconduct.

When he was a prosecutor in Missouri over two decades ago, Robert Schollmeyer and another prosecutor reportedly coaxed false testimony from witnesses and withheld exculpatory evidence in the trial of a murder case that resulted in the defendant being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to the St. Louis Beacon, that 1996 trial was revisited in November 2010 in response to a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed on the defendant’s behalf by a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and an attorney with the Midwestern Innocence Project.

After the defendant had already served over 14 years in prison, a mistrial was declared by a judge who the Beacon reported ruled that evidence showed the defendant did not murder his mother, and that "his trial was corrupted by an inept defense, prosecutorial misconduct and police statements that turned out to be false."

The innocent man spent another six years in prison while his matter continued to be litigated, the Beacon reported.

Schollmeyer, now an assistant district attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit in Georgia, also figured into last week’s rape case mistrial in Oconee County.

Classic City News asked District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez if she was aware of Schollmeyer’s previous misconduct prior to hiring him, and if she was concerned about whether any other of the cases he prosecuted could potentially be called into question.

David Lyle, Gonzalez’s director of external affairs, responded, “This office does not comment on personnel matters regarding its employees.”

Last week’s mistrial was declared by Judge Lawton Stephens on Thursday, the third day of the trial, when he learned that the prosecution failed to provide the defendant with information that was favorable to his defense.

The information was that the complaining witness had told investigators that she had sex with another person after the alleged assault and prior to a forensic exam that determined that DNA recovered from her genitals were from several people, but not the defendant.

During her testimony the young woman reportedly identified the person with whom she claimed to have had consensual sex, and during cross-examination by the defense she revealed that she had shared the name of that person with Schollmeyer.

Arguing that the prosecution had deliberately withheld possible exculpatory evidence that deprived his client a fair trial, defense attorney Morris "Mo" Wiltshire called for a mistrial, which Judge Stephens granted.

In a written ruling the judge said, “The Court finds that the State failed to comply with the discovery requirements...because the State had an affirmative duty to ascertain the identity of the witness and timely provide that information who the Defendant’s counsel.

“Further,” Stephens wrote, “the State intentionally misrepresented to the Court as to when the State was advised of the identity of the witness.

“The Court deemed it impracticable to hold the jury and continue the case on the off chance that the witness could be located, questioned and, if necessary, subpoena (the witness) to come to court within a reasonable amount of time.

“Accordingly, pursuant to (state law), the Court deems it just and necessary to declare a mistrial,” Stephens wrote in his order.

Wiltshire said he planned to file a motion next week requesting a hearing to decide whether there will be a new trial or all charges against his client will be dismissed.

Wiltshire said he also planned to file a complaint against the prosecutors with the State Bar of Georgia.

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