Updated Wed, Jul 31, 2013 7:35 am
An Athens County jury began Tuesday to deliberate the guilt or innocence of a Gallipolis man charged with raping an Ohio University student.
Levi Canterbury is charged with forcibly raping an intoxicated student after she became lost after attending a party in September of 2011. His trial began with jury selection nearly two weeks ago and the six-man, six-woman jury has heard seven days of testimony and arguments.
Tuesday, the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments before Common Pleas Judge L. Alan Goldsberry gave his instructions and handed the case over to the jury.
The prosecution went through the timeline of the night of the alleged rape, based on the testimony given both by the woman who accused Canterbury of raping her and by Canterbury himself.
Both the prosecution and the defense called on the jury to use their common sense and logic to reach a verdict in the case.
“Don’t check your common sense at the door,” County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Driscoll told the jury on Tuesday. “He was telling a bunch of lies.”
Driscoll argued that the woman “was not in a state to consent to sex.”
But through the testimony of the woman and of scientists from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, it has been proven Canterbury did have sex with her in a parking lot on campus, Driscoll argued.
He referenced the DNA results from the underwear of the woman, from which DNA analyst Raymond Peoples testified that chances of the DNA found there not being Canterbury’s were 1 in 8 quintillion.
“You’d need over a million Earths fully populated before you’d find that DNA,” Driscoll said in court Tuesday.
Driscoll said Canterbury’s story of that night was “an impossible dream,” and that the defense made promises during the opening statements that they did not fulfill.
The defense had said during opening statements that there was evidence that the woman had said she had fallen before she came in contact with Canterbury, but the prosecution claimed no evidence was presented proving that.
“If that were true, wouldn’t the defendant have seen the blood before she got in the car?” County Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Pepper said.
For the defense, the case came down to the times the woman and others who testified for the prosecution said they didn’t remember details.
“This is a case of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” defense attorney William Eachus said.
The woman doesn’t remember hours of time before she came in contact with Canterbury, and admits to not knowing when, where or how her pants were removed before she got in the car with him on Route 682.
Eachus said the woman “thumbed for a ride” despite having a cell phone with her.
“She doesn’t call 911, she doesn’t call her parents, she doesn’t call her friends,” Eachus told the jurors.
In rebuttal, Pepper told the jury that phone records presented earlier in the trial showed that she had made calls to her parents and her friends during the time before she was picked up by Canterbury. The woman admitted on the stand to not remembering making the calls because she had blacked out from the drinking she’d done that night.
“She was very very inebriated, I agree with the defendant on that,” Driscoll said in his closing remarks.
Her inebriation is part of the argument for the second rape charge, which accuses Canterbury of knowingly engaging in sexual conduct with someone mentally impaired.
The defense maintained their argument from opening remarks that a rapist would not call 911 to report that the woman was bleeding as she got out of the car.
“Common sense says that if you’ve just raped somebody, you don’t call 911 and you don’t give them your name and how to contact you ...,” Eachus said.
Eachus also argued that if the woman had consented to a sexual assault nurse examination, also known as a “rape kit,” the case could have been made for her.
“(The exam) can corroborate the victim’s statement,” Eachus said to the jury. “Maybe that’s why she refused to take the test.”
Another “interesting lack of evidence,” Eachus said, was no recording of the woman’s statement to police. The police testified it “wasn’t their practice” in 2011 when the interview was conducted.
Eachus said Canterbury’s conduct that night was “the behavior of an innocent man” and that seeking out police when he thought they had found the woman “just made sense to him.”
As for sexual intercourse, despite Canterbury admitting on the stand that he lied to police about what happened that night, Eachus argued that the only person saying there was intercourse was the woman.
“The only evidence you have of sexual penetration is from (the woman) telling you it happened,” Eachus told the jury.
But, the prosecution said in rebuttal, the five hours of testimony she gave on the stand wasn’t just the telling of a story.
“Her story hasn’t changed because it’s not a story, it’s a recounting of the events,” Pepper said.
Pepper also argued that the woman stood to gain nothing from lying to the jury, but Canterbury stood to gain his freedom. She and Driscoll both called Canterbury’s version of events “a work of fiction.”
“He’s a predator, a predator who uses his military background to get what he wants,” Pepper said.
As of The Messenger’s news deadline, the jury was still in deliberation.