VISTA, Calif. — In the four months since a jury convicted him of raping a homeless woman, former NFL star Kellen Winslow II has faced several personal reckonings inside and outside his jailhouse here in north San Diego County.
►His wife of 13 years sold their home in nearby Encinitas Aug. 6 for $2.9 million.
►Then she filed for divorce Aug. 30, leaving her with custody of their 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.
►And now he’s getting ready for a retrial on other rape charges that could force him to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
But he’s still defiant about his innocence and is still trying to regain his freedom after a jury convicted him of three of 12 charges in June.
“The convictions must be reversed,” one of Winslow’s new defense attorneys wrote to the court on Sept. 25.
His attorneys are asking the court to erase those findings of guilt, arguing Winslow should get a whole new trial on all charges because he was denied due process in the first trial.
That request is a longshot for Winslow, 36, who has been incarcerated here since March after once living the high life with $40 million in career earnings as an NFL tight end. Even if that request is denied as expected, he still will head to a retrial Oct. 24 on eight of the charges that hung the jury in his first trial.
A new jury will be seated for that proceeding, where he again will face charges of raping a hitchhiker, sodomizing a homeless woman, raping an unconscious woman in 2003 and abusing a 77-year-old woman at a local gym in February.
In many ways, it’ll be a remake of the first trial, where Winslow’s father, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, was among those who showed up every day and heard a brutal display of graphic evidence against his namesake son.
The retrial will include much of the same evidence as in the first trial, but this time the prosecution will try to get the new jury to deliver unanimous verdicts on the remaining eight charges, which is required for conviction under California law. In the first trial, the jury deadlocked by a 10-2 margin in favor of Winslow’s guilt on four of the eight counts, by a 7-5 margin on three others and 8-4 on one.
And that doesn’t bode well for Winslow in a retrial. Additional convictions could put him behind bars for life.
“As every defense attorney across the nation knows, a retrial usually does not end up in the defense’s favor,” said M. Dod Ghassemkhani, a San Diego criminal defense attorney who is not involved in the Winslow case. “The reason is the (prosecutor) always learns from the mistakes they made in the first trial as to why it hung on certain counts.”
The same jury in June convicted Winslow of three crimes: forcible rape of a homeless woman, misdemeanor indecent exposure with another woman, plus misdemeanor lewd conduct with the woman at the gym in February, all ages 58 or older. He hasn’t yet been sentenced for those convictions but faces nine years in prison for them – which his attorneys will attempt to have overturned before the start of the retrial.
They argue that the first trial unfairly included all five alleged victims – three who alleged rape, one who alleged misdemeanor indecent exposure and one who alleged misdemeanor lewd conduct. His attorneys say that the misdemeanor cases should not have been joined with the rape cases, but because they were, they were unfairly used to influence his rape conviction at the first trial after San Diego County prosecutor Dan Owens painted Winslow as a sexual deviant.
“Had the jurors not been inundated with claims that defendant was ‘wired’ to be a ‘pervert’ or ‘deviant,’ it is probable that jurors (at least one) would not have voted to convict,” Winslow’s attorney Patrick Morgan Ford wrote the court Sept. 25.
Winslow’s attorneys made a similar request before the first trial, asking for separate trials instead one trial with five alleged victims. That request was denied by Superior Court Judge Blaine K. Bowman, who also will hear this request to reverse the convictions shortly before the retrial Oct. 24.
Ghassemkhani told USA TODAY Sports that the request to reverse the convictions has “no chance” because Bowman isn’t going to overrule his previous decision.
Owens, who prosecuted the first trial, argued that Judge Bowman properly allowed the jury to consider the misdemeanor indecent exposure case as evidence of Winslow’s propensity to commit other sexual offenses. In that misdemeanor case, the jury in June convicted him of pulling his pants down and exposing himself to a woman who lived down the street from the Winslow home that was sold in August.
“The People in this case vigorously but appropriately argued the evidence showed (Winslow) to be a sexual predator who continuously engaged in both violent and impulsive sexual offenses, and the elements of each individual offense were supported by the evidence,” Owens wrote the court in response to Winslow’s motion for a new trial.
In his first trial, Winslow’s attorneys tried to raise reasonable doubt with the jury about his guilt by stressing inconsistencies in witness testimony and the lack of physical evidence in each case. Winslow’s attorney, Brian Watkins, also said in his opening statement at the first trial that Winslow cheated on his wife “numerous times” and had consensual sex with the hitchhiker but didn’t rape her or others.
Winslow married his wife Janelle in June 2006, but the couple separated Dec. 20, after most of the allegations came out, according to court documents. She cited irreconcilable differences with him in her divorce petition.
Since his conviction in June, Winslow also his shuffled his defense team. Watkins is no longer on the case because of a scheduling conflict. Attorney Marc Carlos will continue to represent Winslow at the retrial, along with a new attorney, Gretchen von Helms.
Carlos and Owens didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
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