Essie Billingslea, the Level 3 sex offender accused of breaking into an Arlington home and raping a woman at knifepoint last weekend, was released from prison two years ago after a jury decided he would not be likely to rape again. Now one of those jurors is speaking out about the decision.
The Boston Herald reported that the juror, who chose to remain anonymous over concerns about his safety, heard the news out of Arlington and was hoping it was a different person, adding that he felt “terrible” and that the jury “failed.” He even went so far as to suggest that “maybe he fooled us.” He also said he is frustrated that the Department of Corrections did not make a stronger case for keeping Billingslea behind bars.
According to a report from CBS Boston, that jury hearing took place in late 2012 after Billingslea had been deemed “sexually dangerous” by a judge and “likely to reoffend” by a state panel. He was facing an indefinite sentence at a treatment facility in Bridgewater, but petitioned for his case to be presented to a jury.
WCVB reported that in March of 2013 the jury voted 12-2 to release Billingslea.
In the interview with The Herald, the juror argued that the state had to prove he was still a threat, but that prosecutors did not do that.
From The Herald:
"The (DOC) lawyer didn't even work hard to prove this guy was a danger. The state used a couple of expert witnesses who were going by what was written in the reports, and they hadn't actually sat down and talked to him."
"What bothered me was our task was not to prove he was a rapist but to say whether the state proved he was still a danger," said the juror, who has a background in legal services work.
The Herald report said the Department of Corrections disagrees with that assessment and believes there are “several inaccuracies in the juror’s statements.”
On Monday, Billingslea pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated rape, kidnapping, home invasion, assault and battery, and armed assault in a dwelling. He was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing.