NC rape suspect’s bond drastically reduced after sheriff’s office fails to submit key evidence

CARTHAGE, N.C. (WNCN) — A rape suspect in Moore County had his bond reduced by more than $2 million dollars this week.

A judge lowered Edward Womble’s bond to $50,000 after Womble’s attorney filed a motion saying investigators failed to submit evidence to the state crime lab for testing.

Womble’s attorney, Matthew Rothbeind, requested the dismissal of the rape and kidnapping charges as well as the lowered bond in a Feb. 24 motion after learning that the crime lab never received a rape kit or a gun that the sheriff’s office seized as evidence in November 2015.

The defense attorney said “the fifteen-month delay in submitting evidence for testing has caused a very real prejudice” in the case against Womble.

Moore County deputies had arrested Womble in November 2015 on charges including rape, kidnapping, and assault with a deadly weapon. At the time, a judge set Womble’s bond at $2.2 million. That included $2 million for the rape and related charges, $75,000 for an arrest a few weeks prior in which he was charged with assaulting the same victim, and $125,000 for violating a protective order.

Court documents indicate the high bond was due to multiple factors, including the severity of the charges, prior convictions including felony assault, and multiple instances of Womble failing to appear for court.

Sheriff Neil Godfrey said the evidence somehow got overlooked and that the failure to submit the items for testing was an accident.

“As soon as we found out the evidence had not been submitted, we made every effort to submit it in a very timely manner after that. It was submitted last Thursday and we should get the results on the evidence in the very near future,” Godfrey said.

“We would never do anything here in the Moore County Sheriff’s Office to conceal evidence, or destroy evidence, or to do anything intentionally to prevent somebody from having a fair trial.”

The sheriff said he is confident Womble will still be convicted. He said there is other evidence that also supports the statements of the victim.

Womble has not posted the lowered bond.

Godfrey emphasized that he had no say in the decision made this week.

“Bonds are set by judges and we have very little control over that. They consider the facts and other items in setting the bond, and that’s what was done in this case,” the sheriff said.

Womble’s attorney, Rothbeind, is set to soon go before a judge to argue for the dismissal of charges. Even if he’s successful, his motion won’t affect Womble’s other arrest in November 2015 for assault and communicating threats. Womble also faces charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and drug possession.

Rothbeind told CBS North Carolina he could not discuss the case. The prosecutor assigned to the case could not be reached due to an illness.

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