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A court on Thursday upheld the rape and sexual assault convictions and 263-year prison sentence of a former Oklahoma City police officer whose case has been watched closely by the Black Lives Matter movement and some conservatives.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously rejected appeals by Daniel Holtzclaw that included a lack of evidence, excessive sentence, prosecutorial misconduct, a “circus atmosphere” during his trial and a failure by the defense attorney to present an expert to offer an alternative explanation to how DNA of one victim wound up on Holtzclaw’s pants.

Holtzclaw’s family said in a statement that it is devastated by the ruling, but not surprised. Holtzclaw’s father, Eric Holtzclaw, said the family plans to file a new round of appeals in federal court, a process family members said could take more than a decade.

“We will fight for Daniel until he is free,” his sister, Jenny Holtzclaw, told reporters. She said her brother was convicted because of “biased claims” by prosecutors and fabricated accusations by “unreliable accusers.”

“He deserves freedom. He is innocent of all charges that were brought against him,” Jenny Holtzclaw said.

Prosecutors alleged Holtzclaw, 32, targeted black women and girls while on duty. He was convicted in 2015 on 18 charges involving seven women and one girl that occurred in 2013 and 2014. He was acquitted on similar charges involving five other women.

The DNA of one of the accusers was found on Holtzclaw’s pants, but his appeals attorneys argued that could have gotten there through “secondary transfer” when he searched the 17-year-old’s purse. Holtzclaw argued that because his DNA was not found on his own pants, the pants were not properly tested and that the presence of his DNA mixed with that of the girl would support his claim of a secondary transfer.


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