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July 29, 2014

Judge denies new trial for Piedmont man convicted of kidnap, rape, abuse of child

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Raleigh Steven Rowan

Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 2:38 pm | Updated: 5:03 pm, Tue Jun 10, 2014.

A judge Wednesday denied a new trial for a Piedmont man convicted of kidnapping, raping and sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl last year.

Attorneys for Raleigh Steven Rowan, 29, had asked Calhoun County Circuit Judge Debra Jones  for a new trial, citing what they said were several legal, missteps by the court during Rowan’s April trial.

Jones on April 21 sentenced Rowan to three life terms without the possibility of parole for two counts of first-degree sodomy and one count of first-degree rape. Jones also sentenced Rowan to 99 years for kidnapping the girl and 20 years for sexual abuse of a child younger than 12.

Rowan admitted to sexually abusing the girl, and told the court during his trial that he abducted the victim from her Piedmont home on Feb. 5, 2013.

Among the defense’s complaints was that Rowan was not allowed by the court to plead not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, or to present expert testimony about any mental health problems he may have had when the crimes occurred.

Assistant district attorney Jennifer Weems answered that among the many medical records prosecutors had on Rowan at the time of his trial, including records of his 52 hospital visits from 2006 to 2013, none showed evidence that Rowan had any mental health problems. He did, however, suffer from regular seizures, for which he was on medication, Weems told the court.

Rowan was also found competent to stand trial by the state’s expert witness, Weems said.

“The state was never provided with any indication that the defendant had any issues that would lead him to be mentally incompetent,” Weems said, and therefore the law allows the court to refuse a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

After Jones denied him a new trial Wednesday, Rowan’s attorneys appealed his conviction.

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