Closings & Delays

Former Portsmouth Police Officer’s defense team starts appeal process in manslaughter case

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Stephen Rankin’s defense team is working to get him out of jail.

His attorneys have filed the paperwork to get the appeal process going but it will be a long time until that appeal is even heard.

Rankin is just a few days in his 2.5 year sentence.

When he was working for the city of Portsmouth he shot and killed 18-year-old William Chapman.

Now Rankin's defense team is working to get him an appeal and they think there are multiple reasons why Rankin is entitled to one.

Defense Attorney James Broccoletti said, “The fairest thing would've been to move the trial to a different locale where the city and the community wasn't so invested in the case.”

Defense attorneys request several times to have the trial moved out of Portsmouth, but Judge Johnny Morrison said no. Morrison also would not allow Chapman’s criminal record and the items found in his book bag to be part of evidence in the trial.

Early on it was ruled that Rankin’s prior police involved shooting wouldn’t be part of the evidence – but the jurors heard him admit on taser video it was his second one which is another reason why his defense said there is grounds for appeal.

There was also an interaction caught on camera of a juror speaking with a Chapman family friend in the courthouse during the trial. The defense argued this was also unfair.

The Commonwealth strongly disagrees and issued a statement to News 3.

“Ms. Morales argued in the Commonwealth's written motion and in court yesterday that the manner in which the Court conducted the Defendant's trial was designed to eliminate any extraneous issues and neutralize any meritorious appellate error. The Commonwealth contends that the Defendant's appeal will not produce any novel legal issues or meritorious grounds for reversal. Upon receipt of a petition for appeal, the Commonwealth will respond with its brief in opposition to the defendant's petition for appeal.”

Candy Chapman, William's mother wanted Rankin locked up immediately and thinks he should be locked up for longer than 2.5 years.

“You took my son’s life and now your life is over and I don’t want anyone to show him mercy, none,” said Chapman.

“This case is very important. I think it's very important for the community. I think it's very important for the criminal justice system and I think it's very important that the Court of Appeals reviews these issues and it’s important get the correct decision,” said Broccoletti.

The case has invoked angry and emotion on both sides.

The appeal process can take a year or longer.

Click here to read more about Rankin's trial