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Court denies convicted rapist's request for retrial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Supreme Court has refused a request for a retrial brought by a Putnam County man who insists he was falsely convicted in the 1996 rape of his daughter.

High court justices voted unanimously to refuse Joseph Lavigne Jr.'s petition for a retrial, according to court filings posted Friday on the court's website.

Greg Ayers, Lavigne's attorney, filed a petition for a new trial in December, a few weeks after Lavigne was ordered back to prison.

The 54-year-old Lavigne was released from prison, pending a new trial, in 2011 after serving 15 years of his 22- to 60-year sentence. He was convicted in 1996 of raping his daughter, Katie Haught, outside of their Hurricane area home. She was five at the time.

Haught, now in her 20s, never identified her father as her attacker during the trial, though witnesses testified she did the night of the attack. She said after Spaulding's decision that she was "100 percent confident my father is innocent." 

But the Supreme Court reversed Spaulding's decision in November and after a year and a half of freedom, Lavigne was ordered back to prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

The justices said Spaulding's decision did not give proper weight to the prosecution's credibility, stating that Spaulding "sought instead to dismantle the theory upon which the State successfully prosecuted Mr. Lavigne."

Lavigne got credit for the 5,553 days already served but would have to make up the time he spent on bond. He spent that time getting to know his family, including Haught's daughter.

Lavigne remains at Western Regional Jail.





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