Jury fails to reach unanimous verdict in second Haskell rape trial; another mistrial declared
After more than seven days, a trial mired in arguments over betrayal and investigative omissions ended Wednesday morning without a verdict.
Over the course of three days jurors deliberated on 21-year-old Galen Satoe’s case before telling Douglas County District Court Judge Paula Martin that they would be unable to reach a unanimous decision on the charges, even if given more time.
Martin declared a mistrial, the second such result in the reported rape of a Haskell Indian Nations University student.
Satoe and 20-year-old Jared Wheeler are both accused of raping a 19-year-old freshman in a university dormitory room in the early-morning hours of Nov. 15, 2014.
Wheeler’s trial in June also ended without a unanimous verdict.
Satoe faces two felony counts of rape, one felony count of aggravated criminal sodomy, one felony count of attempted rape and one felony count of attempted aggravated criminal sodomy.
Evidence presented throughout Satoe’s trial showed that the woman, alongside her friends — which included Satoe and Wheeler — spent time partying in the evening hours of Nov. 14, 2014, and into the next morning.
Eventually the woman was left alone with Satoe and Wheeler in the dormitory room that the two men shared, said prosecutor Catherine Decena. Satoe then allegedly began to force himself on the woman, and when she called for Wheeler’s help, Wheeler instead held her down and the two men raped her, according to the prosecution.
The woman has known both Satoe and Wheeler since childhood, Decena said, calling the rape a betrayal of trust.
Throughout the trial, defense attorney Angela Keck argued that the sexual encounter was a consensual threesome and questioned the techniques used by those investigating the reported rape.
Medical experts, called to testify by the defense, said nurses administering sexual assault kits to the woman, Satoe and Wheeler, omitted important details, used the wrong kits and improperly filled out forms.
The experts also questioned whether forensic scientists with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation tested the evidence as thoroughly as they could have.
In her closing arguments Keck asked jurors to consider whether detectives were “coercive” in their interview with Satoe, who, Keck said, was exhausted and sleep deprived.
Decena, however, argued in her closing statements that the victim’s testimony and the physical evidence still proved Satoe’s guilt. That physical evidence included the woman’s DNA, which was found on swabs taken from Satoe’s genitals.
Jurors deliberated for more than 11 hours total before announcing their indecision.
Both Satoe and Wheeler were arrested on Nov. 15, 2014, and were later released from jail after each posted a $75,000 bond. Both men were expelled from the university after the incident.
Wheeler faces two felony counts of rape and one count of aggravated criminal sodomy. His second trial is scheduled to begin on Dec. 12.
A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 1 to determine how prosecutors wish to proceed in Satoe’s case.