Tyson loses rape sentence appeal

WASHINGTON - Mike Tyson, the former world heavyweight champion boxer, is to remain behind bars after losing a bid to overturn his conviction for raping a young beauty queen, writes Phil Reeves. Judges in an Indiana state court decided 2-1 to throw out an appeal by Tyson, 27, who is serving a six-year jail term.

Tyson was convicted 18 months ago after luring Desiree Washington, a contestant in a Miss Black America pageant, into his hotel suite in Indianapolis in the small hours of the morning.

Tyson's appeal, brought by the lawyer Alan Dershowitz, included a claim that Patricia Gifford, the trial judge, unfairly refused to allow three last- minute defence witnesses to take the stand. Their testimony was said by defence lawyers to include claims that Ms Washington and Tyson were seen embracing moments before their hotel rendezvous. The appeal judges ruled that the decision was correct.

Upholding the conviction in a 72- page decision, the two-judge majority also ruled that Tyson's trial judge properly excluded evidence about Ms Washington's sexual past, and evidence which the defence claimed would show she had a 'powerful and secret motive' to lie about being raped. Tyson's lawyers claimed the undisclosed evidence involved Ms Washington and her parents.

Tyson is currently in the Indiana Youth Centre, where he is working as a dormitory maintenance worker. Under state law, he must serve at least three years of his term. The remainder can be subtracted for good behaviour - although the boxer has already ensured he will remain locked up for a further 30 days by threatening a guard. Last night his lawyer, Mr Dershowitz, vowed to appeal again.

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