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March 2016 Issue

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Forensic Evidence Showed Accuser Self-inflicted Her Wounds

by Fay Arfa
Fay Arfa, a Law Corporation



Los Angeles, Lancaster Courthouse. After ten years, five months and fifteen days, two trials and two reversals on appeal, the prosecution and the defense reached an agreement releasing Daniel Clarke from state prison. Prominent defense attorney Fay Arfa, fought for Clarke’s freedom and never gave up hope. Daniel Clarke had been serving a sentence of thirty two years to life in prison for six felonies including the rape of pregnant T.G., the mother of his son. Forensic evidence proved Clarke’s accuser lied and self-inflicted her wounds to keep Clarke from gaining custody of their son.

The saga began when Clarke filed for custody of the couple’s son because T.G., now pregnant with the couple’s unborn child, refused to let him see his son. On April 14, 2005, Clarke filed a petition seeking legal and physical custody of their son. Two days before the custody hearing, T.G. invited Clarke to her house where they engaged in sex. After Clarke fell asleep, T.G. called the police. When the police arrived, T.G. grabbed her pajama shirt and ran out of the house naked and claimed Clarke broke into her house, held a knife to her throat, cut her chest, thighs and genitalia with a knife and forced her to have sex. The police arrested Clarke. He was convicted and faced a sentence of life in prison.

Clarke hired Attorney Arfa to file a motion for new trial. She spoke to Clarke, Clarke’s family, saw the evidence and theorized that T.G. self-inflicted her wounds. Defense experts appointed by the trial court agreed that the wounds, consisting of parallel, superficial lines, proved that T.G. self-inflicted her wounds. Despite the compelling exculpatory forensic evidence, the trial court denied Arfa’s motion for new trial and sentenced Clarke to 32 years to life in state prison. Clarke appealed and concurrently filed a habeas petition. The California Court of Appeal ordered an evidentiary hearing. At the evidentiary hearing, the defense medical experts testified that T.G.’s wounds were self-inflicted. The trial court denied the habeas petition. Attorney Arfa then filed a new habeas petition in the California Court of Appeal. The California Court of Appeal denied the appeal but granted the habeas petition based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

The second trial started and the prosecutor told defense counsel he planned to present a medical expert in rebuttal to prove the accuser’s wounds were not self inflicted. Meanwhile, the prosecutor got a court order appointing the Los Angeles county coroner to analyze the wounds. The prosecution’s expert agreed that T.G. had self-inflicted her wounds, but the prosecution hid their expert’s exculpatory report from the defense. Once again, the jury convicted Clarke and he was again sentenced to 32 years to life in prison. The jury refused to believe a woman would deliberately wound herself.

Undeterred, after trial, Attorney Arfa contacted the prosecution’s wound expert, deputy coroner, Lisa Scheinin, M.D. Dr. Scheinin told Attorney Arfa she believed T.G.’s wounds had been self-inflicted. Attorney Arfa filed a motion for new trial based on the newly discovered evidence, namely Dr. Scheinin’s report. The trial court denied the motion finding the coroner’s report “cumulative.” The Court of Appeal reversed, finding the prosecutor unconstitutionally failed to give the defense Dr. Scheinin’s exculpatory report proving T.G. self-inflicted her wounds. The Court of Appeal again granted a new trial.

Before the third trial started, Attorney Arfa filed a Motion to Dismiss Based on Prosecutorial Misconduct and a Motion to Exclude the Accuser’s False Testimony. On the day of the hearing, the prosecution offered a sweet deal: plead to a lesser, non-strike, nonregisterable offense (Pen. Code, § 273.5), time served, no parole, $320 fine and stay away from T.G. Clarke accepted the deal because it would have taken a year for the third trial to start and Dr. Scheinin retired and traveled extensively. To avoid the risk of a third jury trial, Mr. Clarke accepted the offer and the trial court ordered him released from custody.

“It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to tell a client that he or she is going home. We always believed in his innocence; it’s a shame he spent ten years of his life in prison; but we are thrilled with his release and we wish him all the best in the world,” said Attorney Arfa. 

Tel.: (310) 841-6805


Fay Arfa is a Criminal Defense attorney at Fay Arfa, a Law Corporation. Fay is past President of the Century City Bar Association, where she serves on the Board of Governors. 


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