Judge mulls use of suspect’s past offenses in trial

Just because a man was charged with assaults on a woman last summer and has a past conviction for domestic battery, that doesn’t mean that information should be used against him in his rape trial, his lawyer says.

Brown Circuit Judge Judith Stewart hasn’t issued a final ruling on that argument yet.

Rickey D. Haines, 39, of Three Notch Road, is scheduled to go on trial for rape Monday, March 27.

He denies raping the victim in December 2015; one of his attorney’s arguments is that the sex was consensual.

Haines also was facing charges for an assault on the same woman in June 2015 — three counts of domestic battery, criminal recklessness, criminal mischief, invasion of privacy and unlawful possession of a firearm by a domestic batterer.

He was out of jail on bond for that case when the alleged rape occurred.

Both cases will now be tried together in March.

In December, then-deputy Prosecutor James T. Roberts notified the court that the state wanted to use evidence of past acts against Haines. He argued that Haines has a prior domestic battery conviction against the same victim from five years before the alleged rape, plus the pending June assault case.

Jones argued that telling the jury about past acts would only prejudice the jury against her client and encourage a conviction. Just because Haines “allegedly behaved a certain way in the past,” that does not mean he would act that way in “committing the offenses with which he is charged,” she wrote.

Stewart ruled that in order to use the pending June 2015 assault case as evidence in the rape trial, the prosecution will have to provide more specific facts. She said the probable cause affidavit is not detailed enough.

If convicted in either case, Haines could face more jail time than the original charges would have given him. On Feb. 7, the prosecution filed paperwork to pursue habitual offender charges in both cases, because Haines had three other unrelated felony convictions on his record.

If jurors decide to charge Haines as a habitual offender, that could add six to 20 years to sentences in both cases.

Haines remains in the Brown County jail on $100,000 bond.

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.