September 12, 2007
Dubbs' conviction thrown out
He served 5 years for 2 Lancaster County sex assaults confessed to by rapist
CARRIE CASSIDY Of The Patriot-News
The emotionless expression Charles T. "Ted" Dubbs wore as he walked out of the Lancaster County Prison Tuesday afternoon gave no hint of the victory he had won 90 minutes earlier in a county courtroom.
Judge David Ashworth, at the end of a brief hearing, had ordered the handcuffs binding Dubbs' hands removed and freed the Elizabethtown man who had spent 5 years in state prison for two sexual assaults that prosecutors now say he probably didn't commit.
Ashworth dropped all charges against Dubbs after prosecutors said new evidence prevents them from prosecuting him again.
Dubbs, 45, declined to talk after his release about his wrongful conviction or the serial rapist who, in effect, helped set him free.
Prosecutors say Wilber C. Brown II, 45, of Swatara Twp., provided details only the assailant would know during a videotaped interview with investigators and in a letter sent to his mother shortly after his arrest in another case - a letter that was to be opened only when he died.
When Brown was sentenced in November to six assaults in Dauphin County, he also admitted to two Lancaster County assaults - one in June 2000 and another a year later.
He is serving 50 to 100 years in state prison.
Dubbs was convicted of two Lancaster County assaults, in 2000 and 2001, both committed on recreation trails. He was sentenced in May 2002 to 12 to 40 years, which until recently he was serving in the state prison at Huntington.
Dubbs' case and Brown's admission were detailed in a Patriot-News article in May, about six months after Lancaster County prosecutors say they began investigating the possibility someone other than Dubbs had committed the crimes.
A county detective was assigned to review the details of the assaults and "the soundness of Brown's confession," according to a statement released by District Attorney Donald Totaro.
Although there were inconsistencies in Brown's statement to Dauphin County investigators, he provided "significant undisclosed details regarding those assaults" during a videotaped interview Sept. 5 with Lancaster County Detective Joseph P. Geesey, Totaro said after the hearing Tuesday.
After watching the 1 hour and 45-minute video of Geesey's interview of Brown, the victims in the trail attacks said the details Brown provided were accurate, and they were no longer certain Dubbs was the man who assaulted them, prosecutors said.
Supporting Brown's confession was a letter he sent to his mother with a postmark of Oct 21, 2005, shortly after his arrest. Prosecutors said they first learned of the letter during Brown's Sept. 5 confession to Geesey.
The envelope contained a one-page letter that had been folded in thirds and taped shut. Brown had written on the outside of the letter, "MOM Please Do Not open Ever is (sic) Less I'm Dead Then call The STATE Police Ask for Det. Cronin give This To Him only if I'm Dead Please it very important."
Brown's confession to State police Cpl. George Cronin is on the inside of the letter, according to court papers filed Tuesday by Assistant District Attorney Kelly M. Sekula, who was assigned to investigate Brown's confession.
In another letter, dated March 8, 2006, to Dauphin County attorney Diane Morgan, Brown referenced Dubbs' cases and said he "needs to get thing made right" and wants to "fix what is wrong."
With that new evidence and the victims' inability to rule out Brown as their attacker, prosecutors asked that charges against Dubbs be dropped.
Totaro said Brown will not be prosecuted for the 2000 and 2001 assaults in Lancaster County, for which Dubbs had been convicted, because the statute of limitations has expired.
Dubbs' attorney, Vincent Quinn, said Brown still faces charges in Allegheny and Jefferson counties.
CARRIE CASSIDY: 255-8244 or firstname.lastname@example.org