ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -
An Albemarle County judge denied a motion to throw out an abduction conviction Tuesday afternoon.
Mark Weiner, 53, says he never abducted a woman - he just gave her a ride home. His attorneys wanted his conviction overturned, saying he is the victim of an elaborate lie. But Judge Cheryl Higgins said she didn't have the authority to set aside the original guilty verdict; that's for the state Court of Appeals to decide. That means Weiner's conviction and a recommended sentence of 20 years in prison still stand.
Weiner's defense says had offered the 20-year-old woman a ride from the Lucky 7 store in Charlottesville to her mom's house on Pantops, but the woman claimed Weiner drugged her and took her to an abandoned home.
Weiner's attorneys say the victim in this case made up the abduction story and that prosecutors knew it, but proceeded with trial. That ended in a conviction in May of 2013. Weiner's new defense team says he had a bad lawyer who didn't check cellphone records.
"We have objective evidence of actual innocence available through AT&T records, through cell tower information, through affidavits of experts, which the jury of course never heard," said Steven Benjamin, Weiner's attorney.
Weiner's family exchanged heartbroken hugs outside Albemarle Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon after the motion was denied.
"He is locked in a jail cell for a crime that never occurred," said Michael Weiner, Mark Weiner's brother. "It was a hoax that made it all the way to this level, and I say for the whole family, this is incredibly devastating."
Weiner is set to be sentenced July 22.
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