Holtzclaw Family Devastated After Former OKC Police Officer's Appeal Is Denied
OKLAHOMA CITY - The family of a former Oklahoma City police officer serving a lifetime sentence for raping and sexually assaulting women while on duty speaks out on Thursday, after his criminal appeal was denied.
Daniel Holtzclaw’s family gathered on the steps of the Northeast Oklahoma City building where the decision was made.
“Justice took a brutal blow today,” said Jenny Holtzclaw, sister. “With the court’s rejection of Daniel’s criminal appeal.”
Holtzclaw's appeal was filed in 2017, more than two years after convicted and sentenced on 18 counts of rape and sexual assaults. Jurors also acquitted him on another 18 counts.
“We want Oklahoma and the world to know that Daniel is innocent of each and every one of the false accusations against him” said Jenny.
The 53-page court of criminal appeals opinion outlined the appeal and why it was rejected.
One of the main points in Holtzclaw's appeal focused on what his supporters said was the incomplete gathering of DNA evidence.
“When you ignore science,” said Jenny. “You too may find yourself wrongfully convicted because of a tiny quantity of someone’s DNS that transferred innocently into your clothing.”
Despite what they said was a devastating blow, Holtzclaw's family said they will continue to support him during the lengthy appeals process.
“We’ll go to a post-conviction relief and go to the federal system and hopefully right this tremendous wrong that’s occurred here in the Oklahoma judicial system,” said Eric Holtzclaw, father. “Somebody that’s innocent is not going to stand for this.”
Read the family’s full statement below:
"We are devastated to learn that the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has denied our beloved son and brother Daniel Holtzclaw’s criminal appeal. Daniel has now spent 1,330 days separated from us and locked behind bars for crimes he did not commit. His appeal and motion for an evidentiary hearing were filed in February 2017--more than 30 months ago. It has been an agonizing wait for family, friends, and supporters, but most of all for Daniel.
"I spoke to Daniel and while he is also devastated, he remains strong in his faith and confident that the truth will prevail. He will have more to say soon, but wants Oklahomans to know that while we were extremely disappointed in the court’s ruling, we are not surprised.
"We know that the road to exoneration is long. The average length of time it takes for an innocent person to win exoneration is 14 years. Oklahoma has a shameful history of dragging its heels on wrongful convictions. Daniel is not alone.
"We disagree with the Court that the circus mob atmosphere that hijacked Daniel’s trial did not deprive him of a fair trial. Of course, it did.
"We disagree with the Court that lumping together 13 accusations, the vast majority of which were actively solicited by detectives who lied to women about being victims of sexual assault by a cop, did not deprive him of a fair trial. Of course, it did.
"We disagree with the Court that the prosecutor’s lies about the DNA on Daniel’s pants and unprofessional statements in his closing remarks did not affect the outcome of the trial. Of course, they did.
"And we vehemently disagree with the vicious and false assertion in Judge David Lewis’s concurrence that Daniel was a “sexual predator” who abused his authority. It was detectives and prosecutors who abused their authority to manufacture false allegations against Daniel.
"We want to thank those who have stood strong with our family to expose the flaws, failures, and falsehoods of the Attorney General’s office, the District Attorney's office, and the Oklahoma City Police Department in Daniel’s case. Daniel is an innocent man who was wrongfully convicted not only because of fatally flawed forensic evidence and ineffective assistance of trial counsel, but also because of a biased and incompetent police investigation and prosecutorial misconduct.
"Unlike during Daniel’s trial, Daniel now has a legion of supporters, including journalists, lawyers, and concerned citizens from around the globe, who refuse to let the State of Oklahoma desecrate science and justice to keep an innocent man in prison. We are grateful to renowned exoneration lawyer Kathleen Zellner for her vigorous defense of Daniel in the ongoing civil lawsuits against him. We will continue to pursue every available avenue for legal recourse and will not stop until Daniel is free."
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s office prosecuted Holtzclaw. Prater said he reviewed the opinion and believes it speaks for itself.