A state appeals panel has reversed a ruling in a local rape case and remanded it back to the local level.

The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a recent opinion of a ruling by Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty that DNA evidence is admissible in the rape case against 23-year-old Justin Michael Bailey of Oceola Township. In November of 2014, Bailey is alleged to have raped a 17-year-old girl at a friend’s party after she became sick from drinking too much. He was charged with two counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct.

The Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office requested evidence be excluded that indicated DNA collected from the alleged victim was from two different males; Bailey, and an unidentified source. They maintained it violated the state’s rape shield law, which protects victim’s sexual history being used against them.

But after Judge Hatty ruled the evidence could be introduced by Bailey’s defense, prosecutors appealed. In May of 2017, the court of appeals declined to hear the case, saying there was a, “lack of merit in the grounds presented.” Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled in October that the lower court needed to make a decision.

In the recent opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order, finding the trial court abused its discretion by admitting the evidence. It remanded the case back to the local level for proceedings consistent with the opinion. (JM/JK)