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Despite New DNA Evidence Court Denies New Trial in Sex Assault Case

July 20, 2015

In Bharadia v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s extraordinary motion for new trial, holding that he failed to show that the newly discovered DNA evidence in his case could not have been discovered prior to his trial with the exercise of due diligence.

Bharadia was convicted of burglary, aggravated sodomy and aggravated sexual battery in 2003. He was charged along with a co-defendant Sterling Flint. During the investigation, a pair of gloves had been found at Flint’s girlfriend’s home, where Flint occasionally lived.

Bharadia filed a motion for new trial and obtained new counsel who was granted funds to conduct DNA testing on the gloves since it had not been done prior to his trial. The testing revealed that none of the DNA found on the gloves matched Bharadia but rather that of an unknown male and unknown female.

In the wake of this discovery, Bharadia proposed additional testing on the gloves in order to compare the unknown DNA to that of the victim and co-defendant. The trial court denied additional funding for such testing, prompting Bharadia to amend the motion for new trial to contend that the DNA results constituted newly discovered evidence.

The trial court denied the motion, finding that since the gloves were available to Bharadia prior to trial, the evidence was not newly discovered. Second, the court held that the DNA evidence was not so material that it would “probably produce a different verdict.”

In 2012, with help from the Georgia Innocence Project, Bharadia filed an extraordinary motion for new trial and a motion for additional testing to compare the DNA found on the gloves with that of Flint. The court first granted a CODIS database search of the DNA that revealed that the male DNA from the gloves matched Flint’s. The trial court then granted Bharadia’s motion for a DNA sample from Flint, for the purpose of confirmation. Flint’s sample was collected and the match was confirmed.

Despite all of this, the trial court still denied Bharadia’s extraordinary motion for new trial holding that he failed to establish that the DNA evidence could not have been discovered prior to his trial with the exercise of due diligence. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision and the Georgia Supreme Court ultimately agreed to review whether the Court of Appeals properly analyzed the due diligence requirement.

The Georgia Supreme Court agreed that Bharadia did not show that due diligence had been exercised. Instead, the court noted that both the gloves and Flint were available prior to trial and the evidence could have been tested then. Additionally, the Supreme Court held that Bharadia failed to show that there were circumstances that prevented him from obtaining the DNA testing prior to trial.

In affirming the denial of Bharadia’s extraordinary motion for new trial, the Court noted that litigation must at some point come to an end, especially where there is no showing as to why the evidence could not have been obtained prior to trial. Though the Court acknowledged that Bharadia exercised due diligence in obtaining the evidence after his conviction, those efforts were not sufficient to demonstrate the necessary due diligence requirement since “diligence before trial will not be inferred from diligence after conviction.”

Therefore, despite the fact that Bharadia has now discovered DNA evidence that could have affected the outcome of his trial, he will remain convicted and will have no other legal remedy to seek a new trial.

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