LUMBERTON —After nearly four and a half years in Scotland Correctional Institution, Timothy Britt is a free man after a sexual offense conviction was dismissed.
Friends and family cheered as Superior Court Judge Robert F. Floyd, Jr. last week signed an order granting a motion to release Britt from prison.
“It feels good,” Britt said after being released.
In his order, Floyd wrote “that there exists evidence, both existing at the time of conviction, and newly discovered evidence, that strongly calls into question the guilt of Mr. Britt.”
District Attorney Johnson Britt said the prosecutor decided the same day as Floyd’s order to drop all charges “in an exercise of discretion.”
Britt was convicted July 15, 2013, of first-degree sexual offense with a child, taking indecent liberties with a minor, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection to alleged abuse of a cousin’s stepdaughter. He was sentenced to 25 to 30 years in prison followed by 30 years of sex offender registration and a lifetime of satellite-based monitoring.
Britt’s defense attorney, L. Allyn Sharp, filed an 88-page Motion for Appropriate Relief on Oct. 2 saying the state failed to disclose evidence, Britt’s trial lawyer provided ineffective counsel, there was newly discovered evidence and that Britt is innocent.
The motion stated that the alleged victim admitted to a friend that she lied about Britt, saying he did not touch her.
Since the trial the alleged victim has been found to have made sexual allegations against many other people.
“I believe that Timothy’s convictions resulted from the slanted investigative practices of the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, the assistant district attorney’s failure to turn over evidence which the Constitution required him to provide to the defense, and the horrible lawyering of Timothy’s trial attorney, who has since lost his law license,” Sharp said.
Britt’s lawyer at the time, Knox Chavis, failed to disclose to Britt that he was currently under investigation by the N.C. State Bar, which he had an ethical obligation to do so. Chavis also failed to follow up on a note disclosing the alleged victim’s prior criminal records, and Department of Social Services history and hospitalizations, that would assist the case.
Britt said that his attorney pushed him to take a plea deal because he was facing a 40-year sentence but he refused to do so.
“I was not going to plea guilty to something I didn’t do,” Britt said.
Two detectives with the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, both of whom were familiar with the alleged victim’s criminal and mental health history and other false allegations, investigated the case against Britt, according to Sharp.
Britt said he signed the papers without being given an opportunity to read them, thinking that he would be released. He later learned that he had signed a typed confession, documents waiving his Miranda rights and giving his rights away to an attorney.
“Every person that gave a statement at the time, had the opportunity to write the statement in long hand. I was the only one that had a pre-typed statement,” Britt said. “I never told my side of the story.”
“Had he the opportunity to write out his own statement, it would not have been a confession,” Sharp said.
At 44 and living in Lumberton, Britt said that he’s trying to settle in to normal life.
“It was horrible. The hardest part was trying to keep my sanity,” Britt said about being in prison.
He is looking for a job and trying to get a driver’s license, but has a strong support system from his friends and family.
“I’m just starting over,” he said.
A Gofundme page has been set up to help Britt at www.gofundme.com/timothys-new-life.
Tomeka Sinclair at 910-309-3469 or [email protected]