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Melanie Curtin, convicted in Dennis Perkins-related case, will get a new trial, justices say

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NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that a woman convicted of rape in a case involving disgraced former-Livingston Parish Deputy Dennis Perkins is entitled to a new trial.

Melanie Curtin had successfully argued that prosecutors unfairly stacked the deck against her during her 2021 trial. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled last year that evidence admitted in her trial "unfairly prejudiced" Curtin, including videos showing sex in a dressing room and a photo of Curtin with an unknown man.

The appellate court also said the trial court unfairly left out evidence that could have helped Curtin at her trial.

Curtin was convicted of aggravated rape and video voyeurism and sentenced to life in prison. The justices' decision Tuesday upheld the 1st Circuit's ruling that she is entitled to a new trial. Without comment, the state's highest court rejected the state's request to let the conviction stand.

The attorney general's office, which prosecuted the case, said it had not yet charted a path forward. 

“We just received the Supreme Court’s ruling on our writ application. We are going to evaluate it and make a decision as to how we will proceed," said Lester Duhé, a spokesman for the office.

The case against Curtin grew out of the investigation into Perkins and his wife Cynthia, a former school teacher. The pair had been charged with sex crimes involving children, including feeding kids cupcakes contaminated with a bodily fluid.

While investigating the Perkinses, deputies discovered a 17-minute video depicting an assault in 2014. The victim testified she was drinking with Curtin and Perkins and woke up the next morning with a hangover but no memory of what had happened.

Curtin's lawyer said his client was drugged at the time and shouldn't have faced charges. There was no evidence to verify the claim.

Dennis and Cynthia Perkins pleaded guilty to their crimes. Dennis was sentenced to 100 years in prison, and Cynthia was sentenced to 41 years.


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