Judge to Consider Setting Aside Mark Weiner Guilty Verdict

Posted: Updated: May 14, 2014 12:39 PM

A Barboursville man's request to throw out an abduction conviction is now in the hands of an Albemarle County judge. His attorneys argue Weiner’s trial was anything but fair.

In May 2013, 53-year-old Mark Weiner was found guilty of abduction with intent to defile. The jury recommended a sentence of 20 years in prison. Now, he has new attorneys and they say he is the victim of an elaborate lie that the prosecutor knew about.

In his trial, a 20-year-old woman testified that in December 2012 Weiner offered her a ride from the Lucky 7 store in Charlottesville to her mother's home on Pantops. Weiner admits he gave her that ride home.

From there, his attorneys claim the woman made up an elaborate story that Weiner drugged her and took her to an abandoned home. The whole time she was texting details of the abduction to her boyfriend, never calling 911. Weiner's lead attorney, Steven Benjamin, says the woman continued the lie in front of a jury in court.

Wednesday evening, attorneys for Weiner left Albemarle County Circuit Court after two hours of arguments in front of Judge Cheryl Higgins. The new defense team says Weiner's trial attorney failed him by not subpoenaing cellphone records that contradict the woman's story. They claim Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford knew all this and allowed the false testimony.

“Sometimes the effort of getting it right and doing justice requires an intense and sometimes adversarial proceeding,” Benjamin said.

In court, Benjamin called the jury's guilty verdict "worthless and wrong."

“There's nothing I want to say outside of this courtroom concerning the merits of this case other than I am satisfied we will continue this fight as long as it takes," he stated.

Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford defended her trial case. She argued Weiner's request should be considered after formal sentencing or by an appeals court.

Judge Higgins set a date to rule on the case June 3.