October 25, 2005

Guilty pleas in rapes tossed

Denver Post

By Howard Pankratz
Denver Post Staff Writer

A Denver judge has thrown out the conviction of a 72-year- old former Episcopal priest who admitted he raped two boys, saying he received inadequate legal representation.

District Judge Sheila Rappaport blasted the handling of the case by the Denver public defender's office, saying it was "undisputed that literally no investigation was done" on behalf of Donald Shissler, who has been in prison since pleading guilty to the 2001 rapes of two boys in the Baker neighborhood. The office apparently never assigned an investigator to the case despite the gravity of the charges and Shissler's advanced age, Rappaport said in a blistering six-page opinion made public Monday.

The judge's decision means Shissler is eligible for a new trial and could be freed on bail, his new defense attorney said. Rappaport originally sentenced Shissler to 24 years to life in prison.

Posted by kshaw at October 25, 2005 09:05 AM