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Article updated: 11/29/2013 11:31 PM

Wheeling rape conviction overturned

Matthew Schaffer

Matthew Schaffer

 
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The Illinois Appellate Court has overturned the conviction of a 35-year-old man convicted of breaking into a Wheeling condominium and raping a woman in 2010.

Matthew Schaffer had been sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2011. But on Wednesday, the appeals court, by a unanimous decision, sent the matter back to circuit court for another trial, Schaffer's attorney, Ralph Meczyk, confirmed Friday night.

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"I'm pleased," Meczyk said. "This is a chance to relitigate it and vindicate him."

Meczyk said the court agreed with the defense's argument that the prosecution's questions forced Schaffer to comment on the credibility of the 31-year-old victim, a surgeon from another state who was in Wheeling visiting friends.

Meczyk said, "You can't ask a witness to opine about the credibility of other witnesses," because it will "infringe upon the domain of the jury."

Schaffer was convicted of rape, home invasion and stealing money and property, including the victim's wedding ring.

Prosecutors said the woman was attacked while she slept in a guest room of her friends' Wheeling condo.

Schaffer, a self-described "weed dealer" living in Chicago at the time, said the woman bought marijuana from him and the sex was consensual, which the victim denied. She testified that Schaffer wore a mask made of pantyhose when he handcuffed her, menaced her with a knife and a replica handgun, and threatened to kill her.

Meczyk said the state has 35 days to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

• Daily Herald staff writer Barbara Vitello contributed to this report

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