Trial dropped for man accused of rape

Monday, August 18th 2008, 10:43 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Bill of Rights guarantees the right to a speedy trial, and the violation of that right means Michael Gary Clonch won't have to stand trial for rape.

In May 2004, the 41-year-old was charged in Cleveland County with first-degree rape and was later amended to a second-degree charge.

He wasn't arrested until January 2007.

Prosecutors said the delay was because Clonch was on the lam, but Clonch's attorney said the fault lies elsewhere.

"The police never looked for him," Clonch's attorney Steve Stice said. "The investigator in this case admitted on the stand that once the charges were submitted, he did not do anything else in this case until he was actually arrested."

The Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a decision by a Cleveland County judge that Clonch was denied his right to a speedy trial.

The District Attorney said the ruling sent the wrong signal to criminals, and he's making sure this doesn't happen again.

"I make sure that we stay in constant communication with our detectives," said Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn. We actually have asked the U.S. Marshal's service and the Fugitive Task Force to help us locate fugitives, people who are charged with sex crimes."