A man arrested as a 15-year-old on separate Jacksonville rape and carjacking charges was sentenced this week for a second time and will spend 50 years in prison. Kadeem Hart, now 21, was sentenced to 30 years for a 2007 rape and kidnapping, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He was also sentenced separately to 20 years in prison for an unrelated carjacking that occurred just hours after the rape in these Jacksonville Violent Juvenile Crimes cases, the newspaper reported. Hart was accused of approaching a woman who was walking, holding a BB gun to her head and taking her to a wooded area where he allegedly raped her, the newspaper reported. Just hours later, Hart was with a second suspect and Hart stole a car from a woman who had gotten out of her car to unlock the gate to enter her driveway, the newspaper reported.
When Hart was caught in the stolen car, police found the BB gun and the cell phone and charger of the rape victim, the newspaper reported. Hart was tried on all charges in front of one jury in 2009 and was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the armed sexual battery, armed robbery and kidnapping, the newspaper reported. He was also sentenced to 30 years for kidnapping and 15 years for aggravated battery. But, a state appellate court ruled that Hart should not have been on trial for the Duval County Sexual Battery case at the same time as the carjacking cases. Even though the cases were hours apart, Hart should have been entitled to two separate trials, the newspaper reported. Both convictions were thrown out, as was the life sentence. Hart then pleaded guilty to both charges, eliminating the need for a second trial in his Jacksonville Sex Crime cases. Yet this is significantly more at play in the sentencing since the original 2009 life sentences were handed down. Hart's sentence was likely reduced in light of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have declared life sentences unconstitutional for people who commit crimes as juveniles - especially when the crime is not a murder. (See our previous blog)
In terms of the trial in the Jacksonville Sex cases, juries do tend to put significance in numbers, and, if a case as presented as a crime spree, the likelihood of a conviction can rise. And that's exactly why Hart was entitled to two trials. The cases were not related. The common denominators were Hart, the BB gun and the date of the crime, but they are two completely different sets of circumstances. Hart's defense on the Duval County rape charge was that the sex was consensual. That argument gets much more difficult when jurors are also hearing that he is accused of carjacking another woman just hours later. The state must prove the inherent relationship between two cases when joining them, or trying them together, and the appellate court ruled in this case that burden was not met.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Duval County Sex Crime Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.