GONZALES — An Ascension Parish jury has found a Slidell man not guilty of molesting a teenage girl, but prosecutors say they are considering whether to release him from jail with a juvenile sex crimes charge pending against him.
Jurors found Frank Webb Jr., 43, not guilty, 10-2, late Thursday night after a three-day trial and five hours of deliberation at the Parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales.
His public defender, attorney Jarrett Ambeau, claimed Friday that the other pending charge arises from the same facts and evidence and that prosecutors are wrongly depriving his client of his freedom after he spent more than a year in jail.
“It’s plainly double-jeopardy,” Ambeau said.
Enshrined in the Fifth Amendment, double-jeopardy bars someone from being prosecuted more than once on substantially the same charge.
According to the indictment brought against Webb in October 2013, both charges stem from allegations involving the same victim over the same four-year time period.
“It’s a gross miscarriage of justice to leave this guy in jail,” Ambeau said.
Only the molestation of a juvenile charge was brought against Webb at trial this week.
The sex crimes with a juvenile charge was not.
Assistant District Attorney Joni Buquoi, who prosecuted the case, said she told Ambeau on Friday morning that she needed to research the issue and would make a decision by Monday.
“I don’t feel I have an obligation to dismiss the charge just ’cause he wants me to,” Buquoi said, adding she planned to work over the weekend to decide on the pending charge.
“I don’t know what more we can do.”
She pointed to court minutes showing Ambeau had requested and received at least two delays when prosecutors were prepared for trial.
St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Webb on Nov. 8, 2013, at his Slidell-area home on allegations he was forcing a then-16-year-old girl to have sex with him at various locations in Ascension Parish.
He had moved to Slidell from Prairieville, deputies have said.
Buquoi said the victim testified about the allegations brought against Webb. Ambeau said Webb took the stand and denied the claims.
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