Formerly convicted sex offender freed by technicality

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- A Grand Junction man is now walking free after being convicted in 2015 of molesting six young boys and girls.

In 2015, Michael McFadden was sentenced to more than 300 years for molesting children. On Tuesday, he was released from prison in eastern Colorado, leaving many people wanting answers.

"I am completely appalled at this decision," said Dan Rubinstein, the Mesa County District Attorney. "I think the criminal justice system completely failed here."

McFadden, 46, was convicted of 19 counts of sexual offenses, including a habitual sex offender against children. The question is how he became a free man after such a severe punishment and crime.

The answer lies in a technicality.

"If you've heard the phrase, 'he got off on a technicality,' this is exactly that situation," said Rubinstein.

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that McFadden's statutory right to a speedy trial was violated when the presiding judge granted a continuance.

That matters because McFadden has prior sexual offenses.

"Because those facts were coming in, the defense had submitted a jury questionnaire, which addressed his prior conduct on whether or not they could be fair," said Rubinstein.

Rubinstein said the judge didn't read the questionnaire until halfway through the new jury selection, and when he finally did, the judge decided McFadden couldn't get a fair trial. So, he granted a continuance.

"The defense objected and asserted their right to a statutory speedy trial," said Rubinstein.

It's that continuance that led to a Colorado Court of Appeals to overturn his conviction, ruling his right to a speedy trial was violated. Rubinstein said the judge in the case was trying to protect McFadden's constitutional right to a fair trial.

"Because the error here was that he shouldn't have been tried longer than 6 months from the last time he waived speedy trial, there was no remedy for that and therefore there is no ability to retry him," said Rubinstein.

The Mesa County DA did appeal the courts' decision to overturn his conviction, but the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear it.

Now, McFadden is exonerated of all those charges and does not have to register as a sex offender. His prior sex offenses were before the registry statute.

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