All four members of Polish death metal band Decapitated were arrested on September 8 in Santa Ana, California after allegedly kidnapping a woman in Spokane, Washington on the morning of September 1. Details of the situation have since surfaced, with the potential victim alleging gang rape, offering some explicit detail of what happened on the band's tour bus earlier this week. Since then, the band has been held in Los Angeles County Jail, has undergone a court hearing, and is currently awaiting extradition back to Spokane.
For their part, Decapitated released a statement vehemently denying any wrongdoing. "While we are not perfect human beings, we are not kidnappers, rapists, or criminals. As such, we strongly deny the allegations that have recently been brought against us," the statement began. Read the full statement here. How much trouble exactly are the band in? MetalSucks reached out to criminal defense lawyer Jeffrey Einhorn of Jeffrey Lichtman, who offered a ton of insight on what Decapitated are facing. There is a lot worth reading in the article, here are some highlights:
What sentence are the members of Decapitating facing if convicted?
Statutorily, the maximum sentence is 20 years to life imprisonment. Then, with the Washington sentencing guidelines, the range where they would normally fall would typically be 51 to 68 months, but because this was a sexually motivated crime, it could be bumped up to 75 to 92 months. That doesn’t mean they will receive a sentence in that range, but the sentencing guidelines are a good starting point for determining what your client is actually facing.
On top of that, if they’re convicted of one of these charges, there’s a possibility they’ll be listed in a sex offender registry for the rest of their lives. These guys are never going to be able to come back to the United States if they’re convicted. Even if they’re not convicted, they’re going to have a heck of a time coming back here.
How will the state of Washington go about making their case?
The state’s job is a lot easier than the defense attorney’s job. They’re basically going to gather as much forensic evidence as they possibly can to corroborate the story of these two women. First of all, they have to make sure that they are telling the same story, and then they have to get physical evidence to match up with their story. You take the two together, and you have a very powerful case. They’ll use any type of video footage that they can locate, and if in fact there were calls made, they’ll get call records. If there were text messages, they’ll subpoena text message records. I’m sure they have in possession the womens’ phones and that they’ve searched those phones. If there’s any indication on one of those phones anywhere that those women did not want to be there at that time, then the members of the band are going to have a very, very difficult time moving forward.
At this early stage, nobody knows what the evidence is aside from what’s come out in the press in bits and pieces. It’s hard to say. Even with the stuff out there, nobody knows whether it’s true or not. But, if there is a text message from one of these women frantically saying that they don’t want to be there — that they’re locked in the bathroom, that one is being assaulted and she fears that she’s next or anything like that — these people are going to have a problem unless they can show that these women have a strong motive to lie.
Does their status as Polish nationals affect the way that this case will be handled at all?
If it was a lighter case, the fact that they were aliens could be factored into any kind of disposition if there was going to be a plea in the case. Because of the nature of these charges, it really doesn’t. The only thing of note is that if they’re convicted and sentenced, they will do their time in the United States and then they’ll be immediately extradited back home to Poland.
What kind of case will the defendants need to present to prove their innocence?
Well, first of all, let’s not forget that the burden of proof is not on these defendants to show that they’re innocent. It’s on the state to show that they’re guilty.
That being said, if they’re looking to find a way out of this, they’re going to have to start coming up with some evidence quickly because the defense has already made claims that they are completely innocent of this. They’re going to have to come up with a way to show that these women willingly got onto the bus and willingly stayed on the bus. One of the ways to do it is with phone records to show that they weren’t texting madly saying “these people are coming after us. They’ve locked us in the bathroom.” My understanding is that there are some text messages with either a sister or friend of one of the girls. That’s certainly one of the ways to do it. Any kind of surveillance footage would be helpful. Anything that would show that they willingly stayed on the bus. Was there a driver on the bus? It couldn’t have been just the four band members on the bus at that point. There had to have been a driver or a security guard. They’re not nobodies. If someone was asleep in the cab, don’t you think that maybe he would hear screaming if these girls wanted to get out? They claimed that they were screaming and crying.
But it certainly strikes me as possible that they could feel threatened and scared without screaming and crying.
Not a doubt. No doubt whatsoever. One of the first things I’d do though, if I was the lawyer, I’d be going around and locking in every single one of these witnesses to get their stories straight. Either by affidavit or having these witnesses sit down and agree to be recorded to get their stories on tape and then work from there. Another thing is to start digging into the histories of these women. Who knows if they’ve made claims like this before?
Overall, the entire interview is worth a read. Head over to MetalSucks to check it out.