New Hearing for Arena

Innocent Arena gets a resentencing hearing, but not a new trial

Michael Arena
Michael Arena

A unanimous Texas Supreme Court last week granted a new sentencing hearing for Michael Arena, who was sent to prison for 20 years for the alleged sexual assault of his then 7-year-old cousin, Stephanie, which she now says never happened. The court declined, however, to exonerate Arena, against whom no evidence of guilt remains. Whether Bell County officials will decline to hold a new sentencing hearing, allowing Arena to go home after serving more than a decade in prison, remains to be seen. Either way, it's a bittersweet victory, since Arena will now be required to register as a sex offender. "Of course we firmly believe Michael is innocent and was not effectively represented at trial and were disappointed that the Supreme Court did not fully clear Michael's name," Arena attorney Clint Broden wrote in a May 18 email to the Chronicle. (See "New Sentencing Hearing for Arena," Newsdesk blog, May 18.)

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Michael Arenasex offenders, Michael Arena, Texas Supreme Court, sex offenders

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