HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city Prosecutor’s Office appears unwilling to give up their fight against a Navy veteran whose sex assault conviction was overthrown after a witness recanted ― and two other men confessed to the crime.
Roynes Dural’s second trial is set for December 2.
Dural showed up at Circuit Court on Monday morning with family, friends and supporters, hoping to hear that the case would be dismissed altogether.
Instead, after more than an hour of waiting, the deputy prosecutor and Dural’s attorneys were called to the judge’s chambers for a private meeting.
When they emerged, the new trial date was set.
“I don’t know what they’re doing, unfortunately,” said William Harrison, attorney for the Hawaii Innocence Project, which represents Dural.
Dural said prosecutors have “the evidence that proves my innocence.”
“It’s been a long battle, over 16 years," he said. "Yet again, I’m getting dragged down.”
Dural was a Navy sailor in 2002, when he was accused of sex assault by a teenager. The girl said the incidents happened over a two-year period, but she never could provide dates. There was no DNA.
The girl and her mother testified against him and he was convicted. He got 20 years.
While in prison, the girl’s mother realized it wasn’t Dural but another man ― a school cafeteria worker ― who was having an inappropriate relationship with the girl. That man ended up marrying the girl.
There was another man who also later confessed that he was also having sex with the teen.
Dural’s conviction was overturned on appeal after 16 years. Eight of those years he served in prison; he was on parole for the other eight.
Honolulu prosecutors were given a choice: Drop the case outright or refile the charges and try again.
Harrison said the decision to set a trial date came as a surprise.
“I’ve been in contact with the lead prosecutor throughout," he said. “She’s indicated over and over again she wasn’t sure if they were going to proceed or not.”
Ken Lawson, co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project, said with all the evidence they have clearing Dural another trial doesn’t make sense.
“Not only is it a waste of time, it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money," he said.
Dural said the thought of another trial is emotionally draining.
“You just hope that the system will do the right thing at some point," Dural said.
Hawaii News Now did reach out to the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for an explanation and hasn’t received a response from the spokesman.