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2013 U of I Rape Conviction Could Be Overturned

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Jesse Vierstra has spent three-and-a-half years behind bars. - LATAH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Latah County Sheriff's Office
  • Jesse Vierstra has spent three-and-a-half years behind bars.
More than three years after a Twin Falls man was convicted of raping a woman outside a University of Idaho fraternity house, a plea agreement is in the works that could see the conviction overturned.

Jesse Vierstra was 20 years old in June 2013, when he was sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison with no possibility of parole and a maximum of 15 years behind bars for the sexual assault of a U of I student during the university's homecoming weekend in October 2012. According to the Lewiston Tribune, the victim had testified that Vierstra had raped her when Vierstra, a one-time U of I student, was visiting the Moscow campus and met the victim at a fraternity party.

Vierstra maintained his innocence throughout the trial but, when the victim took the stand, she said she was "in constant fear of running into Vierstra or his family."

This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports a new settlement signed by Vierstra's attorney and state prosecutors will ask the court to overturn his conviction and sentence on the condition that he enter an Alford plea to an amended charge of assault with intent to commit a serious felony.

An Alford plea would allow Vierstra to acknowledge there was enough evidence to convict him but without admitting guilt. According to the plea agreement, Vierstra would receive credit for the three-and-a-half years he has spent behind bars and the rest of his sentence could be suspended. Second Judicial District Judge John Stegner would need to agree to the plea agreement, which would also require Vierstra to be placed on probation for 10 years and a restitution settlement of $6,000.

A hearing date on the settlement agreement has not yet been set, but a previous evidentiary hearing had been slated for October 4.