A Colorado man convicted of multiple counts of sexual abuse against children — so many crimes that he was serving 300 years in prison — has walked away from prison a free man thanks to a technicality, KMOV-TV (St. Louis) is reporting.
Michael Tracy McFadden, 46, was serving what would have amounted to the rest of his natural life in prison, and then some, at Colorado’s Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility. He was there after having been convicted of a series of sex crimes against children — boys and girls — prior to 2015.
However, he appealed his conviction on the basis that he was not given the constitutionally-protected “speedy trial.” Several courts agreed, and McFadden walked away a free man this week. His convictions will be vacated, and he will not have to register as a sex offender.
McFadden’s legal troubles came to a head, as the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel explains, around 2015. That was when he was tried on charges of molesting young boys and girls in the years leading up to his trial. Prosecutor David Waite said that McFadden would select and target families whose children were at-risk of being “groomed.” He would then befriend the families’ kids — most often boys, but sometimes girls — and shower them with attention in order to gain their trust.
“He befriends people who have young kids and then he gets into a situation where he has access to those kids, and he grooms them pretty heavily.”
He would then take his victims on ATV and dirt-bike rides, and “molest them heavily.”
Following a 2015 trial that Waite described as “traumatic” for McFadden’s victims, he was convicted and sentenced to three centuries behind bars.
However, the lead-up to his trial was beset by various delays. Paperwork issues, problems related to a questionnaire given to potential jurors, requests for delay by both the prosecution and by McFadden’s defense team — they all added up.
And now it appears that McFadden has used those delays to his advantage. The Constitution of the United States and the Colorado Constitution both guarantee a criminal defendant a “speedy trial.” In Colorado, courts have generally taken that to mean that a defendant should have to wait no more than six months for a trial. Because it took longer than that to bring McFadden to trial, he argued, his constitutional rights were violated.
A court agreed, and in doing so vacated his convictions. That means he will walk away a free man and not have to register as a sex offender.
Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein believes that a gross miscarriage of justice has taken place.
“The thing that is so frustrating is that everybody agrees that every decision was made to the benefit of protecting (McFadden’s) right to a speedy trial.”
Meanwhile, Kathi Raley, the victim assistance coordinator at the District Attorney’s Office, said in remarks via the Miami Herald that she’s received several voicemails from parents of McFadden’s victims, fearing for their safety now that he is a free man.
“I can’t even imagine the terror that these kids are now feeling.”