As prosecutions launch in both California and Louisiana against former NFL safety (and as of last week former NFL Network employee) Darren Sharper for rape, Louisiana has something that California doesn’t.
In Louisiana, Erik Nunez remains in jail on charges of aggravated rape. The arrest warrants, according to Naomi Martin of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, allege that Nunez was present in Sharper’s apartment for the rape of two women last September 23, that both women woke up “disoriented” from a “stupor” to find Sharper on top of them naked, and that another acquaintance who had a key to Sharper’s apartment arrived after the alleged assaults and saw both Sharper and Nunez wearing only boxer shorts.
Sharper is suspected of nine rapes in five states during a period of less than four months. He also is suspected of drugging 11 people.
The presence of Nunez and his subsequent prosecution give the authorities an potentially significant edge in their effort to secure a conviction of Sharper. Cut a deal with Nunez, who testifies against Sharper, and Sharper goes away for a long, long time — regardless of the outcome of the other cases in the other jurisdictions, where without a witness who was in the room and wasn’t drugged an “if it doesn’t fit you must acquit” outcome becomes more likely.
In those other jurisdictions, Nunez also could be a key witness. At a minimum, he can testify about “other bad acts” of Sharper in Louisiana (that’s Rule 404(b) for the aspiring lawyers in the crowd). Nunez also can provide testimony about things Sharper may have said to Nunez about drugging and raping other women in other states (that’s not hearsay, under Rule 801(d)(1)(A)).
It all comes down to what Nunez knows, whether he’d be able to tell a credible story in court, and whether a mutually-acceptable plea agreement can be negotiated.