SPRINGFIELD — A Seymour man is demanding restitution from the state after being jailed for more than 21 months for a rape he never committed.
Armand Villasana, then living in Springfield, was convicted in 1999 of kidnapping Judith Ann Lummis from a Sonic Drive-in, then raping and sodomizing her at knifepoint.
Seven months later, he was exonerated when his defense attorneys presented evidence showing that DNA collected from the woman’s rape kit didn’t match Villasana.
Lummis acknowledged in 2007 that she made up the rape story to cover up an extramarital affair.
Greg Aleshire, an attorney for Villasana, filed a petition Friday in Greene County Circuit Court seeking reimbursement for the time his client spent in prison between his conviction and release.
“We were looking at several different angles for Mr. Villasana, and this one appeared to be the most viable,” Aleshire said.
State law allows anyone convicted but later found innocent by DNA testing to receive $50 for every day he or she is behind bars post-conviction.
The petition filed by Aleshire requests $11,250 for the 225 days between Villasana’s conviction on Nov. 10, 1999, and his June 21, 2000, release.
Aleshire said Villasana needs the money to pay back family members who lent him money for his defense attorneys.
“He’s not getting ahead on this — it will just allow him to pay back money that he owes,” Aleshire said. “The other problem for Armand, too, is he spent a year and a half in jail before his conviction, and he gets nothing for that.”
By seeking restitution, Villasana also waives his ability to sue the state or other government agency for his incarceration.
Villasana’s defense attorneys won his release with evidence that the Missouri Highway Patrol’s crime lab failed to report before his trial. In a report sent to prosecutors, lab workers said they found no semen to test in the woman’s rape kit but didn’t include notes mentioning other possible biological materials in the evidence.
The attorneys paid for additional testing, which found a DNA profile that didn’t match Villasana, Lummis or her husband. Five years later, it was matched to another man, leading Lummis to confess the cover-up.
Prosecutors couldn’t charge Lummis with perjury because the statute of limitations had passed but she spent seven months in prison for probation violations.
Aleshire called Lummis “the real culprit in this” and said Villasana had considered suing her for his time behind bars.
“Yes, we could get a judgment against her as a symbolic gesture,” he said. “But as a practical matter I don’t think we could ever collect a dime.”
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, www.springfieldnews-leader.com