An Iowa man who admitted sexually abusing a 13-year-old has gone free after a county attorney turned up drunk at court. Under state law, defendants in Iowa must get a trial within a year of their arrest—but, after the judge ruled that the trial couldn’t proceed with a drunk prosecutor, that year-long deadline expired and the accused was free to go. “The county attorney’s unavailability at the last hearing was the finale following unexplained periods of inactivity and lack of responsiveness that prevented disposition of this case within one year,” wrote Iowa District Court Judge Martha Mertz. County Attorney Michelle Murphy Rivera was arrested Oct. 18 at the courthouse, with a criminal complaint noting that she “was slurring her words and stumbling on her feet,” and had a “strong odor of alcohol” about her. Police asked her to take a breath test—she refused and was arrested, and later pleaded guilty to a public-intoxication charge and was fined $65. The 23-year-old defendant had admitted to engaging in a sex act with a minor in August 2017, police records say.
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