Michael Arena served 12 of the 20 years he was sentenced to, before the Texas Supreme Court allowed him to leave on June 1 of this year. He was convicted in 1999 of molesting his young cousin.
Several people have asked whether Carlos Coy would walk free if the child in his case recanted her testimony; that is, if she said she was lying, or coerced.
Take a look at the case of Mr. Arena. Two years after the trial, when she was 11, his young cousin recanted her testimony. She said that she had been pushed into accusing him by her mother, who was in the middle of an ugly divorce from Michael’s uncle. She has maintained this for ten years.
However, this was not enough to free him; it had nothing to do with why he is home with his family today.
The Supreme Court said it could not credit Stephanie Arena's version of events because a Bell County judge determined that her recantation lacked credibility, finding that it was apparently the result of pressure by Michael Arena's family. The Supreme Court typically defers to lower courts on such judgments.
That’s it; that’s all it takes to invalidate a young woman’s attempt to fix a problem caused by people who had no problem using a young child to do their dirty work. Apparently the Supreme Court believes that it is easier to intimidate an adult, over a period of ten years, than it is to intimidate a 9-year-old for a few months until the state can take it’s pound of flesh.
Instead of taking the word of what appears to be a responsible young woman (who herself says that her mother is “kind of unbalanced”) and declaring Michael Arena innocent, the Texas Supreme Court took another way out. They admitted that one of their own experts lied on the stand about the reliability of a ‘pedophile test’ that he gave Michael, and overturned his sentencing. Not the verdict; no, he’s still guilty in their eyes, but since the state lied to get him his twenty years, they plan to re-do that part.
The supposed victim is ready to testify on Michael’s behalf at the new sentencing hearing; she’s doing what she can to make this right, which is brave and honorable; however, he will still be a convicted child molester. He will still have to register as such. Restrictions will be placed on where he can live, work, and travel. His face will be up on the Sex Offender Registry with all the others who have committed crimes ranging from sex with young children to pissing in an alley.
That is why I don’t focus much on a recantation from Jane Doe. It would help, of course, but it’s not an automatic ticket home for Carlos Coy. The state will do what they can to deny it, to say that it came from pressure by Coy’s family or fans; that's why I have no interest in contacting her, and I would not suggest anyone else try to. Allen Cowling talks about dealing with recantations which seem to be a tenuous lifeline, at best. It's better, in my opinion, to focus on the behavior of the State during the trial, where everything was documented and "legal".