A 33-year-old Newport, Vermont man has been freed by a court due to what a prosecutor called a procedural error in his 2003 conviction for sexual assault on a minor, but the state says it will still pursue the case.
The Caledonian-Record of St. Johnsbury reports that Christopher Smith was charged in 2002 and had served more than eight years in prison.
States Attorney Alan Franklin said the conviction was set aside because of a procedural error by the judge during Smith's guilty plea. He says the judge failed to find a factual basis for Smith's plea on the record, as is required.
Smith's attorney, Dawn Matthews of the Vermont Prisoners' Rights Office, says that means it's impossible to tell that Smith voluntarily and knowingly entered his plea.
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