Defense attorneys want to keep Stephen Rankin out of jail during possible appeal

Posted at 6:15 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 23:15:53-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Defense attorneys filed a motion asking a judge to grant Stephen Rankin a bond during the likely appeal of his conviction.

In August, a jury convicted Rankin of voluntary manslaughter in the death of 18-year old William Chapman. The attorneys have filed a motion, asking the judge to set aside the verdict. They argue Rankin's use of force was legally justified because he was acting as a police officer following his training, so the conviction can't stand.

If the judge does not agree, the attorneys plan to immediately appeal the conviction, according to the motion. During the appeals process, they want to keep Rankin out of jail. "He would almost certainly be held in the local jail where his status as a former Portsmouth police officer will make him a target of retaliation and retribution," reads the motion.

Complete coverage: Stephen Rankin murder trial

Rankin is scheduled to be sentenced on October 12. In court filings, Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Morales said the jury was following the facts of the case, which support a voluntary manslaughter conviction. She also writes that Rankin should not get a bond because it "would set an unjust precedent not commonly afforded to other defendants."

Earl Lewis, the Chapman family spokesman, said Rankin should have to go to jail on October 12. "If Rankin is on the street another day, we will protest until he goes to jail and I mean that from the bottom of my heart," he said in a phone interview. "Enough is enough."