Former Idaho Representative Aaron Von Ehlinger has filed an appeal to the rape conviction that was handed down in April.
The case stemmed from an incident in March 2021. Von Ehlinger took a woman he met at the Idaho Capitol, a legislative intern, out on a dinner date. They went back to his apartment after dinner. She later accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex.
One month later, in April 2021, the House of Representatives Ethics Committee held a two-day ethics hearing to determine if the panel believed the alleged conduct was unbecoming of a Representative. The committee unanimously recommended suspending Von Ehlinger from the House without pay throughout the remainder of 2021 and all of 2022. The day after that recommendation came down, Von Ehlinger resigned from the House.
In September 2021, Von Ehlinger was arrested on the charges of rape and forcible penetration. In April 2022, a 12-member Ada County jury convicted him of rape and acquitted him on the charge of forcible penetration. In August, Judge Michael Reardon sentenced Von Ehlinger to 20 years in prison, eight years fixed before he is eligible for parole.
The appeal filed Friday claims that Reardon made errors during the trial, including allowing Nurse Ann Wardle to testify to the accuser’s state of mind, not declaring a mistrial after the accuser fled the stand during her testimony, and in denying the defendant’s Rule 29 motion for acquittal or a new trial.
Reardon explained in the August 25 hearing that Wardle’s testimony was not improper and not considered hearsay under Idaho Rules of Evidence Rule 803.
Russel Ehlinger, Von Ehlinger’s father, had this to say of the current state of his son’s case,
“Aaron was convicted of rape on the flimsiest of evidence imaginable, and at the recent hearing a solid defense witness was not allowed to be heard. If the bar to convict is allowed to be set so low as to convict our son, it could negatively affect everyone in the future: your sons, brothers, and even your husband. The precedent of conviction with so little evidence undermines our values and freedoms, both now and in the future. We are hopeful that a successful appeal will turn into a new trial that allows ALL evidence and witnesses, not just the prosecution’s.”
Von Ehlinger had just 42 days from the date of the judgment (sentencing) to file the appeal, pursuant to Idaho Appellate Rule 14,
“Any appeal as a matter of right from the district court may be made only by physically filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the district court within 42 days from the date evidenced by the filing stamp of the clerk of the court on any judgment or order of the district court appealable as a matter of right in any civil or criminal action.”
Now that the appeal has been filed, a transcript of all proceedings must be completed. Following that, the Court will provide a briefing schedule. The parties may request extensions to the briefing deadline. Once the briefs are timely submitted, the court may decide the appeal based on the contents of the briefs, or it may schedule oral arguments. There are no time limits the court is bound by in a decision being issued.
When Idaho Dispatch asked the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office to comment on this case, they replied,
“Given that Mr. Von Ehlinger has appealed, this case will now be handled by the Attorney General’s Office during the appeal process. Therefore, we will not be commenting further and would refer you to the Attorney General’s office.”
Idaho Dispatch has reached out to the Idaho Attorney General’s office for comment and will update if there is a response.
Contributions to this article were made by David at Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: Aaron von Ehlinger, House Ethics Committee, Idaho Capitol, Idaho House of Representatives