PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Former Portsmouth Police officer Stephen Rankin was granted a petition for an appeal in part by the Court of Appeals Tuesday.
Rankin was granted the petition for appeal based on two separate issues, according to Defense Attorney James Broccoletti.
He said the appeal was based on the alleged juror misconduct during the trial and the court not allowing a defense expert to testify.
According to court records, "The trial court erred as a matter of law when it used the wrong standard in determining that Professor Michael Lyman, PhD., was not qualified to testify as an expert and the court abused its discretion in refusing to permit Professor Lyman to testify as an expert in the field of police use of force."
It went on to state, "The trial court erred in denying Mr. Rankin's motion for a mistrial following significant improper contact between a juror and a spectator. The court further erred by failing to undertake its affirmative duty to further investigate the matter when additional information came to light concerning the nature of that contact and the relationship of the spectator to Mr. Chapman's mother. As a result, Mr. Rankin was denied his constitutional right to a fair trial by an impartial jury."
The defense also argued that the jury should not have heard Rankin say it was his second shooting on a video recording, the jury should have been allowed to know the contents of Chapman's bookbag, and that the jury should have heard about Chapman's criminal record, however, the court of appeals denied those arguments.
News 3 reached out to the Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Morales. She said, "The fact that an appellate court agrees to hear a case is not an indication that the court plans to overturn a conviction. Appellate courts regularly agree to hear criminal cases, only to uphold the conviction later. The two issues the court will hear have one of the strictest appellate review standards known to the law, and we hope that the court will affirm the Defendant’s conviction."
The Court of Appeals will now determine if Rankin could get a new trial.
On October 12, 2016, a jury found Rankin guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 2015 shooting death of 18-year-old William Chapman and recommended a sentence of 2.5 years in prison.
Chapman's family representative Earl Lewis told News 3 he thinks a new trial would be completely unfair and said he doesn't think Rankin is serving enough time as it is.
He currently remains locked up serving his sentence.