GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – Attorney Tucker Stanclift says he and his client, Jeffrey Tillman, are still trying to piece together exactly how the 32-year-old ended up on a stranger's couch at the Village Green Apartments in Glens Falls early Sunday.
"My client had no recollection of what occurred," Stanclift said Friday. "He was out drinking with friends and coworkers and then something odd happened."
When first arrested by Glens Falls Police after being found drunkenly passed out, Tillman was charged with felony counts of first degree sexual abuse and second degree burglary for allegedly entering the home and molesting a 10-year-old girl who was sleeping on a living room couch.
"My client had a very different perspective as to what happened that evening," Stanclift said.
Believing Tillman was too drunk to intentionally enter the home or abuse the girl, Stanclift says it was the first time he ever urged a client to testify before a grand jury.
When that grand jury indicted the Hudson Falls man Thursday, the two felony counts were thrown out and replaced by misdemeanor second degree trespassing and second degree harassment, a violation.
"I think we often overlook the significance of hearing a person's own voice and hearing the innocence in their own voice,” Stanclift said. “I am impressed with the fact that the system that we have set up has actually come to a fair and just result."
"It is unusual to see it successfully argued," legal expert Paul DerOhannesian said.
Also a defense attorney, DerOhannesian says innocence by intoxication is a rarely used defense because it's only eligible in certain cases, like sexual abuse, where a prosecutor must prove the defendant committed the act intentionally. Intoxication levels are also highly difficult for defense lawyers to establish.
"It usually isn't going to be successful, because so much of the requirement mandates you can't really have any idea what you were doing, and that is very difficult to establish," DerOhannesian said.
Stanclift says his office is also working to determine if Tillman was intoxicated simply due to his own overindulgence or if someone may have put something in one of his drinks.
"There was an opportunity on many occasions where his drink was left unattended, he [Tillman] says," Stanclift said. “Part of our investigation is corroborating that."
When reached by phone, Glens Falls Police declined to comment.