ATLANTA – A Georgia judge on Monday voided a 10-year sentence given to a 17-year-old teenage male who was convicted of having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson voided Genarlow Wilson's sentence and dropped it to misdemeanor aggravated child molestation with a 12-month sentence, plus credit for time served. Under the new ruling, he will not be required to register as a sex offender.
"I just feel like a miracle happened," Genarlow Wilson's mother, Juannessa Bennett, said Monday.
Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said Monday afternoon that he had filed notice of appeal, arguing that Georgia law does not give a judge authority to reduce or modify the sentence imposed by the trial court. He said he would seek an expedited ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court.
Wilson defense lawyer B.J. Bernstein said she believes Baker is just trying to stop Wilson's immediate release.
"It is extremely, extremely disturbing that the attorney general would take this action now," she said. "In essence, the attorney general is saying, 'Keep Genarlow Wilson in prison for 10 years and keep him on the sex offender registry."'
Bernstein was working Monday to free the now 21-year-old man from prison but worried the state's appeal could hinder his release.
"Please, please, enough," Bernstein said. "If you think that Genarlow Wilson's done something wrong he's had over 28 months in jail. He is a great young man. I don't want this to happen to any more kids in Georgia."
In his ruling, Judge Wilson wrote: "If this court or any court cannot recognize the injustice of what has occurred here, then our court system has lost sight of the goal our judicial system has always strived to accomplish ... justice being served in a fair and equal manner."
Wilson's original sentence, for aggravated child molestation, was widely criticized on the grounds it was grossly disproportionate to the crime. State lawmakers later passed a law to close the loophole that led to the 10-year term.
"The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanor, and without assistance from this Court, will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave miscarriage of justice," the judge wrote.
Wilson's defense lawyers were ecstatic as the ruling came in. But Bernstein later announced that the attorney general's office had filed notice of appeal, which she believes it meant to put a stop to Wilson's immediate release.
She said she plans to look into filing a bond to release him while the appeal is pending.
"It is extremely, extremely disturbing that the attorney general would take this action now," she said. "In essence the attorney general is saying, 'Keep Genarlow Wilson in prison for 10 years and keep him on the sex offender registry."'
The attorney general's office did not immediately comment.
A Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman said the agency cannot take any action regarding Wilson nor comment on his case until it receives a copy of the judge's order. Wilson's lawyers said they expected to talk with prison officials in the afternoon.
When the judge's order arrived Monday morning, Wilson's lawyers had applauded and hugged his mother, who wiped away tears.
A jury had found Wilson, an honor student, guilty in 2005 of aggravated child molestation for having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl during a 2003 New Year's Eve party involving alcohol and marijuana. Although the sex act was consensual, it was illegal under Georgia law.
Wilson was also charged with rape for being one of several male partygoers at the Douglas County hotel to have sex with a 17-year-old girl, but was acquitted. The party was captured on a videotape that was played for the jury.
Several influential people, including former President Jimmy Carter, stepped forward to support Wilson.
"This has been two-and-a-half years of a fight over consensual teenage sex," Bernstein said.
FOXNews.com's Sara Bonisteel and the Associated Press contributed to this report.