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Gwinnett prosecutors unable to contact key witness in teen’s rape case

State prosecutors have been unable to make contact with the key witness in a 2-year-old rape case involving multiple high school teens who haven’t been allowed bond, Channel 2 Action News reported.

Darriah Mitchell, 16, and three other juvenile defendants have been locked up and denied bond in a rape case that allegedly took place May 2016, Channel 2 reported.

Darriah Mitchell (Channel 2 Action News)

They’re accused of sneaking out of South Gwinnett High School with a 16-year-old girl and raping her while she was under the influence of Xanax and marijuana.

However, Danny Porter, the Gwinnett County District Attorney, told Channel 2 the state hasn’t been able to contact the accuser despite “roughly (knowing) where she is.”

“She is a necessary witness in the case,” Porter told the news station.

Porter told Channel 2 his office argued against bond for the teen suspects, including Mitchell’s earlier this week, for fear of witness tampering in the case. His main concern is videos of the alleged attack on social media that were discovered early on in the case.

“If they had access to that, they could reach out and try to influence witnesses. That’s our primary concern,” Porter told the news station.

Porter’s main reason for not considering conditional bond release is because defense attorneys did not file the proper motions, Channel 2 reported.

“In fact, his mother asked me today, ‘Well why haven’t you agreed to an ankle monitor?'" Porter told the news station. “I said, ‘I’ve never been asked about an ankle monitor.’ It’s never even been a suggestion. If they want an alternative to confinement, then they have to give me something to consider.”

Mitchell, who was indicted when he was 15, has been held at the Rockdale Regional Youth Detention Center ever since, Channel 2 reported. A judge agreed that he can remain in juvenile detention instead of being transferred to an adult facility when he turns 17 in June.

Tavien Hartwell, William Thompson and Cameron Richard are the other three teens awaiting trial, which does not have a set date, Channel 2 reported.

Porter told the news station if they’re unable to contact the alleged victim in the next 30 to 60 days, a conditional bond to include ankle monitoring and social media monitoring will likely be considered, pending proper defense motions.

“If the victim remains in limbo, then I’m going to be in contact with the defense attorneys about some kind of bond that will get them out of custody,” Porter told Channel 2.

He said he’s optimistic the state will be able to contact the accuser soon because the state was able to contact the girl’s family members, who have information on her whereabouts, the news station reported.

Porter said he doesn’t need the accuser to physically appear in court, but a statement from her is necessary for a trial date to be set, Channel 2 reported.

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