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Archive for Saturday, June 19, 1999

JURY DISAGREES ON RAPE CHARGE

June 19, 1999

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After four hours of deliberations, the jury announced that it couldn't reach a verdict on a rape charge against a Kansas University student on Friday.

A Kansas University student accused of rape hugged his attorney and family members Friday after jurors couldn't agree on his guilt or innocence.

Prosecutors are considering whether to refile the charge.

The hung-jury announcement came about four hours after the 11 women and one man on the jury started deliberations in the case. They found the 18-year-old Ellsworth Hall resident not guilty of a sexual battery charge involving a separate incident and guilty of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Jurors declined to comment on their discussions. Douglas County Assistant Dist. Attys. Angela Wilson and David Zabel met with jurors for more than a half-hour after the trial to discuss what led to the disagreements. Wilson said she couldn't discuss the particular reasons given by jurors but praised them for their work.

"They were fairly split at one point," she said. "There were some holdouts on both ends."

Wilson said the final determination on whether prosecutors file the rape charge again lies with Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich.

The trial began Wednesday, and the defendant and his 18-year-old accuser both testified. While the woman testified that she was raped in her Ellsworth Hall room, the defendant said it was consensual.

Defense attorney Don Smith, Olathe, said the woman's testimony contained "rampant and replete" inconsistencies. But prosecutor Zabel said the woman was under immense stress following the Oct. 17 incident and the inconsistencies don't mean she was not telling the truth. During his closing statements to the jury, Zabel took exception to Smith suggesting the woman made the accusations because she was "caught in a compromising situation" and couldn't explain it to another man or that she was angry that the man didn't call her the following day.

Smith said the fact that no one -- including the alleged victim's roommate, who was asleep in the same room -- heard anything, make the allegations questionable. The woman said she struggled and yelled during the incident.

"The issue about this yelling, and nobody hearing about it -- the (prosecutors) just can't get past that," Smith said.

District Judge Jack Murphy fined the man $250 and court costs and ordered him to undergo an alcohol evaluation for furnishing alcohol to minors.

The man admitted he had a party in his room after "Late Night with Roy Williams," the first practice for the KU basketball team, and serving alcohol to people he knew weren't 21 years old. During the party, he offered to escort the woman and her roommate back to their room in the same residence hall.

The sexual battery charge stemmed from allegations made by a resident assistant in the hall that the defendant touched and kissed her without her consent the same night of the party.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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