CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Even at the age of 87, Charles Watson still gets riled up when the former Chesterfield Commonwealth's Attorney thinks back on a rape case that shocked Central Virginia more than 30 years ago.
"I was disappointed, I was mad," Watson said. "It was an open and shut case."
"This particular case it sounds like it was one of the big disappointments from your time as Commonwealth's Attorney since you couldn't partake in it?" CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit asked Watson.
"Oh it was... it caused a lot of contentious behavior over the next four year," Watson responded.
It's a case that attracted a lot of attention because the victim was a nurse and the suspect, Cornelious Francis Florman Jr. was a member of one of Richmond's wealthiest families.
In November of 1986, Chesterfield Police charged the 20-year-old great-grandson of the founder of Reynolds Metals with breaking into a woman's Bon Air home and violently raping her.
Just days later, Henrico Police arrested Florman for a nearly identical attack that took place at another woman's home near the University of Richmond.
"They don't just do it one time and forget it," Watson said.
The Henrico case went before a jury twice.
The first time it ended in a mistrial, and the second time Florman was acquitted.
But the evidence worked against him in the Bon Air case.
Thanks to a neighbor that chased down the suspect's van and got the license plate number, police quickly connected Florman to the crime scene.
During the trial, the victim testified that she had gotten a good look at him.
So in June of 1987, a Chesterfield jury found him guilty of rape, and sentenced him to five years in prison.
Watson said that was not nearly enough time, but he was powerless to do anything about it.
"My heart was in the right place, I just wasn't at the scene... at the courthouse," Watson said.
Watson believes Florman deserved 50 year to life behind bars for the rape, and said that is what he would have pushed for, but he did not prosecute the case because he was fighting cancer at the time.
One of his assistants, Frederick Rockwell, tried the case in his absence.
Rockwell spoke with CBS 6 after the verdict.
"In this particular case the jury looked at Mr. Florman, and he looked like a boy scout, he looked like a child, and I think they looked at him and said we're hesitant to put him in the penitentiary for any length of time, so I think that's the reason for the minimum sentence," Rockwell said back in 1987.
Watson believes if he had not been in the hospital, the outcome may have been different.
"I'm still wondering why that happened... if I had done what I wanted that would never have happened," Watson said.
Newly tested DNA evidence has linked him to a brutal attack that took place in Florida in 1998.
"Oh lord, my wife was getting showered, and I grabbed the paper and I ran into her and I just said, I mean I was very devastated to know that he had done something again," Watson said.
Watson said he hopes this time Florman gets the sentence he believes he deserves.
"I hope they put him away for good," Watson said.
It's worth noting that Florman did not even serve the full sentence that he was given in the Chesterfield case. Because of mandatory parole, he was released after only three years.
While he was acquitted in Henrico, his accuser later won a multi-million dollar judgment in civil court.
Florman has also been convicted of crimes against women in Kentucky and Texas.
No charges have not yet been filed in the Florida case.
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