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Vigilante convicted of fatally shooting suspected child rapist gets new trial

A New York man who was convicted of killing a suspected child rapist recently had his 2016 first-degree manslaughter conviction overturned and was granted a new trial.

The Times Herald-Record reported that David Carlson was found guilty of the 2013 fatal shooting of Norris Acosta-Sanchez. Acosta-Sanchez, 35, (pictured right) was wanted in Rockland County on second-degree rape charges for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

According to the newspaper, Carlson befriended Acosta-Sanchez before knowing the allegations against him. Upon learning about the rape charges, Carlson and his wife reportedly informed Deerpark police, leading law enforcement to ask them to help take Acosta-Sanchez into custody by participating in a set-up traffic stop.

An appellate decision obtained by the Herald-Record stated that Acosta-Sanchez escaped during the traffic stop and police invited Carlson to planning sessions where police and multiple agencies brainstormed on how to catch him.

It was on October 11, 2013, when Acosta-Sanchez reportedly came to Carlson’s home to confront him, accusing him of conspiring with police. Carlson allegedly grabbed his shotgun and led him to neighbors’ homes, hoping that someone would call the police.

Carlson reportedly told police that he fired his gun after Acosta-Sanchez lunged at him. He said Acosta-Sanchez lunged at him a second time, leading him to fire a final—and fatal—shot.

Carlson’s lawyers claimed he acted in self-defense. Despite this, a jury convicted Carlson and he was handed a five-year sentence, the minimum for a first-degree manslaughter conviction.

However, an appellate court overturned the conviction on Wednesday after Carlson’s lawyer, Benjamin Ostrer, successfully argued that the prosecution’s use of the phrase “statutory rape” during jury selection suggested that Acosta-Sanchez wasn’t a violent offender.

While prosecutors argued they provided a corrective statement to the third round of potential jurors, six of the seated jurors didn’t hear the correction.

“Such a colloquial term may have been misinterpreted by some jurors to mean that the sexual contact between the victim and his alleged victim was consensual, but illegal solely because of the age difference between them,” the appellate court wrote in their decision, according to the New York Post.

As a result, the appellate court determined that Carlson was denied his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial and granted him a new trial.

Carlson has been free $500,000 bond since his appeal. A Westchester DA spokesman told the New York Post that prosecutors are still deciding whether to retry him.

 

[Featured image: David Carlson/WCBS; Norris Acosta-Sanchez/New York State Police]