A South Florida Uber driver who was convicted of raping a passenger in 2017 will get a new trial, a state appeals court ruled on Wednesday.
That decision clears Gary Kitchings’ existing 22-year prison sentence.
The appellate court believes the 60-year-old man did not receive a fair trial the first time around because the jury did not get to hear his full statement to detectives following his arrest, when he told them the encounter was consensual.
The ruling adds that Palm Beach County Chief Circuit Judge Krista Marx was mistaken in not allowing the jury to listen twice to the 38-year-old woman’s recorded statement to investigators in its entirety.
Both the accuser, who lives in New York City, and Kitchings testified during the original trial in 2018.
Prosecutors argued that the former part-time driver took full control of his passenger after he picked her up from SunFest on May 7, 2017.
They accused Kitchings of locking the doors to his car and then forcing the woman to perform sex acts, before breaking into her Jupiter home and raping her.
The woman told the jury that Kitchens was a “monster” and had threatened to shoot her unless she performed a sex act. He then allegedly busted through the front door of her home.
According to Kitchings, the woman told him it was not necessary for him to get a condom from his car.
He was ultimately convicted of three counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon or physical force, as well as one count of burglary with assault or battery, and false imprisonment. The jury acquitted him of one sexual battery count, which was alleged oral sex in the car.
Prosecutors had requested life in prison, but Judge Marx considered Kitchings’ “contributions to the community” before he was arrested.
He served as a foster parent for several decades and had no criminal history.
Details on when Kitchings’ new trial may start have not been released.