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Genarlow Wilson freed... almost


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  • Genarlow Wilson freed... almost

    Why would the AG appeal this? It doesn't seem right at all.


    ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A judge on Monday threw out the 10-year sentence against a 21-year-old for a consensual sex encounter he had as a teenager. But the state attorney general quickly filed a notice of appeal, keeping Genarlow Wilson in prison for the time being.

    The prosecutor's move brought an abrupt halt to the jubilation Wilson's mother, Juannessa Bennett, and his attorney, B.J. Bernstein, were feeling, and the plans they were making for Bennett to be reunited with her son.

    "It is extremely, extremely disturbing that the attorney general would take this action now," Bernstein said, adding that she did not know what message "he's trying to send" or "who he's representing."

    Wilson has drawn support from throughout the country, including the editorial board of the New York Times and former President Jimmy Carter.

    When he was 17 years old, he had a consensual sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl, which was consensually videotaped.

    Georgia law at the time made such an action a felony punishable by 10 years in prison and listing on the sex offender registry.

    The state legislature later changed the law, partly in response to Wilson's case. But the change was not made retroactive, leaving Wilson in jail. He has already served more than two years.

    Superior Court Judge Thomas H. Wilson of Monroe County, Georgia, voided the sentence Monday, agreeing with Bernstein that the punishment was cruel and unusual, and therefore unconstitutional, Bernstein said.

    The judge ruled Wilson should serve one year, less than he has already served, and that he would not be listed as a sex offender.

    Upon reading his ruling, which was faxed to her office in Atlanta, Bernstein cheered, screamed with delight, and hugged Wilson's mother. Watch Wilson's mom, lawyer's tearful reaction to the judge's ruling

    "I just feel like a miracle happened," Bennett told CNN.

    "He didn't deserve to have the sexual predator status," she said.

    When Bernstein -- a frequent guest on CNN -- spoke to reporters before the attorney general's announcement, she pleaded with prosecutors to give up the fight.

    "This has been a really long 28 months," Bernstein said tearfully. "It's a very long fight. And right now we have an order of release. And I beg the attorney general of the state of Georgia: please, enough. Do not file an appeal, please. Because we have an order of release right now for a young man that I think most everybody in the community believes should not be in prison."

    She added, "Please, please, enough."

    Bennett called the decision "a dream come true. It's definitely a dream come true." Of the judge she said, "He got a lot of heart, and God bless him."

    Bernstein said she could not believe how long it took to get to this point.

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