Jury de­lib­er­ates fate of teen ac­cused of rape

17-year-old boy faces al­le­ga­tions from last year

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

The jury be­gan de­lib­er­a­tions on Thurs­day morn­ing in Charles County Cir­cuit Court, dis­cussing the fate of a Wal­dorf teenager ac­cused of rap­ing a 20-year-old wo­man in December.

Charged with sec­ond-de­gree rape and as­sault, Travonne Lamont John­son, 17, awaits a verdict as of press time Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

With Ad­min­is­tra­tive Judge Amy Bra­gu­nier pre­sid­ing, As­sis­tant States At­tor­ney Sarah Free­man told jurors to con­sider the ev­i­dence brought against John­son, which in­cluded pho­tographs of the vic­tim’s ap­par­ent in­juries, foren­sic find­ings, tes­ti­mony, and a se­ries of text mes­sages be­tween John­son and the wo­man.

Pub­lic de­fend­ers Edie Cimino and Court­ney Dixon con­tested the al­le­ga­tions, telling jurors that the al­leged vic­tim fab­ri­cated her ac­cu­sa­tion af­ter she re­gret­ted hav­ing con­sen­sual sex with John­son.

On Dec. 3 around 1 p.m., John­son be­gan tex­ting the al­leged vic­tim, telling her to come over to smoke mar­i­juana, the wo­man tes­ti­fied.

She de­clined the of­fer sev­eral times be­fore he was even­tu­ally able to con­vince her, of­fer­ing to give her mar­i­juana for free, ac­cord­ing to pro­ceed­ings.

The wo­man ar­rived at the res­i­dence in the 1200 block of Ban­nis­ter Cir­cle in Wal­dorf around 1:30 p.m.

When she ar­rived, John­son led her into a bed­room be­fore he went up­stairs to re­trieve the mar­i­juana. When he re­turned, he was naked, she tes­ti­fied. She al­legedly told John­son that she did not want to have sex with him and tried to leave, but John­son re­port­edly grabbed her by the neck and threw her onto the bed, she said.

She tried to es­cape, but John­son al­legedly tripped her and forced him­self upon her while she was face down on the car­peted floor, break­ing the belt on her jeans dur­ing the strug­gle, ac­cord­ing to the wo­man. At the first op­por­tu­nity, she ran out of the house and went home where she told her sis­ter and a friend that John­son had raped her.

Po­lice ar­rived at the wo­man’s house shortly af­ter. Det. K. Klezia be­gan his in­ves­ti­ga­tion and took her to Univer­sity of Mary­land Charles Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter for an ex­am­i­na­tion.

Dur­ing the trial, Free­man called Paula Sim­mons to the stand, the nurse who con­ducted the Sex­ual As­sault Nurse Ex­am­i­na­tion on the night of the in­ci­dent. She tes­ti­fied that she ob­served a con­tu­sion and swelling on her neck, as well as abra­sions on her ab­domen. Jurors were pro­vided pho­tographs taken of the ap­par­ent in­juries.

Vagi­nal swabs were col­lected from the wo­man by the nurse, which later re­vealed the pres­ence of John­son’s DNA, Mary­land State Po­lice foren­sic sci­ence Tif­fany Keener tes­ti­fied.

“He is in­no­cent,” Cimino told jurors in clos­ing ar­gu­ments. “This young man did not rape [her]. They had been talk­ing. They started tex­ting ev­ery­day nearly.”

“There were no vagi­nal in­juries what­so­ever,” she con­tin­ued, adding that she be­lieved the con­tu­sion on the wo­man’s neck ap­peared old.

Cimino said the vic­tim was mo­ti­vated to fab­ri­cate the al­le­ga­tions be­cause she was scared of preg­nancy, peo­ple find­ing out, and she had been ro­man­ti­cally in­ter­ested in another man at the time, who she now is dat­ing, and he would have been up­set.

“She wanted to re­write his­tory,” Cimino said. “… So, she cried rape.”

“There are many rea­sons to doubt,” she added.

Free­man re­but­ted the de­fense, la­bel­ing Cimino’s ar­gu­ment as “ab­surd.”

“You saw the in­juries in the pho­tographs,” Free­man told jurors. “There’s no ev­i­dence that she con­sented to sex. Just be­cause there was no vagi­nal trauma does not mean there was ev­i­dence that this was con­sen­sual.”

Free­man pointed out that the vic­tim im­me­di­ately told her family that she had been raped and told her boyfriend the fol­low­ing day.

Free­man also read a se­ries of text mes­sages out loud to the jurors. In the con­ver­sa­tion, the wo­man de­clined to come to John­son’s house sev­eral times, and only agreed to come af­ter he of­fered her free mar­i­juana.

“You do not get a free pass be­cause you’re 17,” she con­tin­ued. “Those text mes­sages clearly show her in­tent on that day.”

Jury de­lib­er­a­tion be­gan around 11:15 a.m. on Thurs­day and con­tinue as of press time.

David Ge­orge Mehrtens, 75, of Port To­bacco, MD, died May 23, 2016 in Washington, DC.

David was a Vet­eran of the United States Coast Guard, hav­ing served from 1957-1961. He was an elec­tri­cal fore­man with the Lo­cal #26 IBEW for 50 plus years. He was also a mem­ber of Eutaw For­est Archers Club and an orig­i­nal mem­ber of the Port To­bacco Bea­gle As­so­ci­a­tion. He liked bass fish­ing and hunt­ing. He was also a good family man.

He was the son of Ge­orge Wil­liam Mehrtens and El­iz­a­beth Eleanor Locke Mehrtens. In ad­di­tion to his par­ents, he was pre­de­ceased by his brother, Ger­ald R. Mehrtens.

He is sur­vived by his wife of 50 years, Sarah El­iz­a­beth Mehrtens; his son, Phillip D. Mehrtens and wife Kather­ine; his brother, Dean Wil­son Mehrtens and wife Glo­ria Ann; his sis­ter, Ardith Free­man and hus­band Kevin; and his grand­chil­dren, Rea­gan El­iz­a­beth and Ian David Mehrtens. Also sur­vived by a num­ber of nieces and neph­ews.

Friends re­ceived on Wed­nes­day, June 1, from 5-8 p.m. with Fu­neral Ser­vice at 7 p.m. at Ray­mond Fu­neral Ser­vice Chapel, 5635 Washington Ave., La Plata, MD 20646. In­ter­ment at a later date.

Me­mo­ri­als are asked to Washington Hospi­tal Cen­ter.

Gisela E. Neu­bert

Gisela E. Neu­bert of Brandy­wine, MD, died Wed­nes­day, May 18, 2016, at Hospice of Charles County. She was mar­ried to Christo­pher J. Neu­bert in 1948 un­til his death in 1989. She is sur­vived by one son, three grand­daugh­ters, one sis­ter, and four great-grand­chil­dren. Gisela was a res­i­dent of Brandy­wine for nearly six years, but had al­ways thought of Vir­ginia as home. She was born in Frank­furt (am Main) Ger­many on Nov. 3, 1929, and re­tired from the Civil Ser­vice in 1989 af­ter many years of gov­ern­ment ser­vice. She was re­spected and loved by friends for her hon­esty and strength.

Friends may call from 12 to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. on Satur­day, June 4th for the view­ing at Lee Fu­neral Home, Inc., 6633 Old Alexan­dria Ferry Road, Clin­ton, MD 20735. Ser­vices will be Sun­day, June 5th at 4p.m., also at Lee Fu­neral Home, Inc. Ser­vices at Fort Myer Chapel and burial in Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery will be sched­uled at a fu­ture date.

In lieu of flow­ers, ex­pres­sions of sym­pa­thy are re­quested to be made to the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern Mary­land or Hospice of Charles County. On­line sym­pa­thies at www. lee­fu­ner­al­homes.com.

Thelma Marie Washington

Thelma Marie Washington, 56 de­parted this life at John Hop­kins Hospi­tal in Bal­ti­more, MD on May 20, 2016. Born on December 10, 1959, in LaPlata, MD. She was the daugh­ter of the late Doris Ce­celia Camp­bell Washington and Wil­liam Irvin Washington. She is sur­vived by her four chil­dren Morgan Key, Ter­rance Key, Ebony Franklin, Rickey Franklin, Jr. and sev­eral family mem­bers and friends. Family will unite with friends for visi­ta­tion at 9:00 am un­til Mass at 10:00 am on Tues­day, May 31, 2016 at Sa­cred Heart Catholic Church in LaPlata, MD.

Larry Glen Wick­line Larry Glen Wick­line, 92, of La Plata, MD died May 21, 2016. Larry was a vet­eran of the United States Army, hav­ing served dur­ing WWII and he was owner/op­er­a­tor of Amer­i­can Floor Ser­vice, Al­lied Floor Cov­er­ing, and Metro Floor Ser­vice for 42 plus years. He was an avid golfer and had a great sense of hu­mor. He es­pe­cially en­joyed be­ing with his family. He was the son of Hen­der­sen Lee Wick­line and Gertrude Livesay Wick­line. He was sur­vived by his wife, LaTrelle “Gerry” Wick­line; his sons, Wick and wife Bea, Dean and wife Holly, and Dale and wife Lenore; his daugh­ter, Dana Wick­line. Also sur­vived by seven grand­chil­dren and six great grand­chil­dren.

Friends re­ceived on Tues­day, May 31, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. with Fu­neral Ser­vice at 7 p.m. at Ray­mond Fu­neral Ser­vice Chapel, 5635 Washington Ave., La Plata, MD 20646. In­ter­ment on June 1, 11 a.m. at Mary­land Veter­ans Ceme­tery in Chel­tenham, MD with United States Army Hon­ors.

Me­mo­ri­als are asked to Hospice of Charles County, 2505 Davis Road, Wal­dorf, MD 20603.

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