Jury deliberates fate of teen accused of rape
17-year-old boy faces allegations from last year
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.