His murder left a community shocked and outraged, and now the Naponee man who beat his own toddler grandson to death last year could end up getting a new trial after his defense attorney filed a motion last week.
The motion was filed in Franklin County District Court June 17, and it alleges that 47-year-old Peter Draper's right to a fair trial was violated when an Adams County jury convicted him last month of murdering 2-year-old Joseph Rinehart Junior.
The trial was held in Adams County because the defense argued that Draper has a hearing impairment, and that because of the acoustics in Franklin County, he couldn't hear what was going on in the courtroom.
According to testimony, Draper repeatedly beat Joseph so severely that he died last April from what prosecutors say was constant torture and abuse.
In the motion for a new trial, Draper's attorney, Charles Brewster, argues – among other things – that the court abused its discretion by allowing the state to call Draper's wife Nancy to testify knowing that she planned to invoke her 5th Amendment right to stay silent.
Franklin County Attorney Patrick Duncan spoke out following Draper's conviction last month, saying that he's happy to finally see justice for Joseph.
"I'm very gratified that the jury came back with the verdict they did," he said. "Finally, poor little Joseph Rinehart Junior got some justice. His death was absolutely horrible, and we're just gratified that the jury could understand the horrendous nature of the crime."
Draper's hearing is set for tomorrow, and if his motion is denied, he could end up spending the rest of his life behind prison walls when he is sentenced on Aug. 1 in Adams County.