PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Attorneys for former Portsmouth police officer Stephen Rankin argued to get his conviction in the death of a teenager overturned Tuesday.
“I appreciate the court’s consideration. They spent a lot of time asking questions,” said defense attorney James Broccoletti.
Rankin, who was initially charged with first-degree murder, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. The former Portsmouth police officer shot William Chapman II outside of a Walmart in April 2015.
His defense has argued that a judge made two errors during the August 2016 trial, which they believe affected the outcome. Rankin’s attorneys are seeking a new trial, while prosecutors want the former officer to stay locked up.
Representing the Commonwealth, Senior Assistant Attorney General Virginia Theisen argued the latter side on Tuesday in the Norfolk Court of Appeals. Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales was the original prosecutor in the case.
Rankin’s attorneys claim Judge Johnny Morrison made an error when he denied them from using an expert witness.
During Tuesday’s hearing one judge pointed out that the point of an expert is to assist the jury and not confuse them.