Kaitlyn Hunt Sebastian teen underage sex case update: Attorney files motion to delay hearing
Cites need for more time to prepare
Elliott Jones, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
11:50 AM, May 31, 2013
6:44 PM, May 31, 2013
VERO BEACH — The pace of 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt's teen sex case has slowed somewhat, for now.
Prosecutors canceled their questioning of key witnesses, including the alleged victim and her parents, after Hunt's defense attorney, Julia Graves, said she needed more time to prepare, according to court documents.
"To move forward without adequate time for preparation would be malpractice," Graves stated in her motion.
A state plea deal deadline ended May 24 with Graves announcing that her client rejected it — choosing instead to move ahead with going to a jury trial. Hunt has pleaded not guilty to two charges of lewd and lascivious battery of a 14-year-old girl.
State Attorney Bruce Colton said his plea offer was fair and once it was rejected, he said his office planned to move ahead with the case, possibly even going to trial in July.
Prosecutors scheduled depositions — the official taking of pretrial statements — for Thursday . At the same time, prosecutors are asking the courts to compel Graves to disclose her witnesses.
Two days before the depositions, Graves filed a court motion, contending the state's pace is too quick for "such a serious matter." The state canceled the depositions and a new date hasn't been set, according to court files.
Hunt is charged with an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison for each offense if she is convicted.
The plea deal offered Hunt the option of accepting a lesser felony charge, child abuse. Graves said they wanted charges reduced further, to a misdemeanor, and Hunt's family started an online campaign on her behalf that attracted thousands of people, including some protesters in Indian River County.
The court file has one handwritten letter from a self-described civil-rights activist from Texas. "I implore you to drop the charges against Kaitlyn Hunt," the unidentified signer wrote.
The victim's parents have rarely spoken. Their attorney, Charles Sullivan Jr., said they consider the case a matter of child protection.
Their daughter, then 14, was too young to have sexual relations with an 18-year-old, under Florida law. Because of their ages, the youth couldn't legally consent.
An investigation was launched earlier this year when the younger girl's parents took her to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office for questioning. There she disclosed that the two girls — who were friends — had sexually intimate relations in a restroom at their high school, Sebastian River High School, and at Hunt's home, court documents show.