A judge said Friday that prosecutors have a questionable case against a man accused of rape and attempted murder, after the victim recanted her accusations against him.
Jediah Lockhart turned himself in Friday morning and was arrested by warrant on charges including first-degree attempted murder, rape, brandishing or using a deadly weapon and domestic violence assault. If convicted, Lockhart is facing decades in prison.
The arrest warrant affidavit was not made public Friday, and details of the accusations against Lockhart are unclear. Bail was set at $250,000 and he appeared in court Friday morning, where his defense attorney Kye Walker heavily criticized the government’s case.
Walker questioned V.I. Police Detective Teaclla Buckley about whether the victim recanted her statements, and Buckley said she did — in a previous domestic violence matter. Walker provided Buckley with a copy of a notarized handwritten letter from the victim, recanting the most recent accusations that allegedly occurred on Aug. 14, which Buckley said she hadn’t seen before.
Morris said one of the factors he must consider when determining release conditions is the likelihood that prosecutors will be able to secure a conviction on the merits of the case.
The victim’s recantations “give the court concern that there’s any likelihood of success on the merits,” Morris said. “It does change the court’s perspective on the matter.”
Morris is already on pretrial release with a third-party custodian in an unrelated criminal matter, for which he’s entered a plea agreement with prosecutors and is awaiting sentencing for third-degree assault. Morris reduced bail to $50,000 and said Lockhart may be released after posting property as surety, with a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.