JAY – After deliberating for almost two hours, a Delaware County jury acquitted a Colcord man Thursday of raping a woman but found him guilty of lesser crimes and recommended he serve a 43-year sentence.
Jake Atkins, 26, of Colcord was convicted of maiming.
As District Judge Barry Denney read the verdict, Atkins remained stoic showing no emotion while the victim quietly wept.
KSN’s policy is not to identify rape victims.
Atkins was found guilty on lesser charges of domestic assault and battery with intent to kill, domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of domestic assault and battery.
The 6-men and 6-women jury recommended Atkins serve 20 years for the maiming conviction and 20 years on the domestic assault and battery with intent to kill conviction. The jury recommended one year each for the remaining three convictions and a cumulative $15,000 fine.
“The judge will decide if the sentences are to run concurrently,” said Jeremy Bennett, Atkins’s attorney.
“My client is glad to have the trial behind him,” Bennett said.
Atkins was charged with 14 counts ranging from kidnapping, rape, maiming, and assault and battery. Prior to closing arguments, Denney ruled two counts were absorbed into another charge because the dates of the two counts happened during the alleged kidnapping episode.
The District Attorney’s office dropped one count regarding a weapon violation.
“We could see she was heavily beaten,” said Thomas Weidman, the jury foreman.
“Some of the evidence could not be produced,” Weidman said, referring to the victim’s testimony.
The victim testified about being beaten with a metal rod which the prosecution did not produce for the trial.
Prosecutor David Ball showed the jury three photographs during closing arguments. A photograph of Atkins injured hands – a photograph of the victim’s bruised back – and a photograph of the victim’s swollen and bruised face.
“His hands – her injuries – her face,” Ball said showing each photograph.
Ball reminded the jury of the hospital video where the visibly upset victim was seen in a hospital bed with a bruised swollen face and a large bruise on her cheek and chin area.
“Her face was swollen and there was sheer terror in her face,” Ball said.
The sexual exam nurse, Megan Dart, testified she had never seen a beating this severe in her seven years of nursing, Ball said.
“She said she never saw a bruise this bad,” Ball said about the 10-inch-long bruise on the victim’s abdomen.
“How could photos lie,” Ball said.
“There is no question she was beaten and traumatized,” Ball said. “No question she was injured.”
During closing arguments, Bennett told the jury this case was about the victim wanting revenge for Atkins throwing away her dad’s cremated ashes.
“Wouldn’t that make you want to get even,” Bennett said to the jury.
“The (destruction of the cremated) ashes tells me a lot more about him (Atkins) than the (victim),” Ball said during his final comments to the jury.
“She (the victim) did not lie to you one bit,” Ball said.
Bennett argued there was no DNA from a sexual assault.
Ball disagreed saying, “there is DNA – it’s on the black mag flashlight.”
The victim identified the silver flashlight not the black mag flashlight was used to sodomize her, Bennett said
“The silver flashlight had no DNA,” Bennet said.
“There is DNA to back up what (the victim) said,” Ball said. “Was there a sexual assault – yes there was.”
“There is a reason there was no DNA – she (the victim) wanted it out of there,” Ball said.
Ball held up the sexual assault report showing the victim had showered before the exam.
The only evidence of the victim tied to a tree was the victim’s testimony, Bennett said.
“There was no DNA on the rope, there was no ligature mark (on the victim’s neck),” Bennett said. “DNA doesn’t lie.”
Bennett also questioned the victim’s credibility.
The neck wounds on the victim weren’t fresh, he said. .
“How did they heal that fast in that short amount of time,” Bennett said referring to the time of the attack and when she was examined.
The drowning and banging the victim’s head on rocks is testimony from the victim, he said. The victim’s statements were inconsistent about what type of chair she was tied to for hours, Bennett said.
“Her (the victim’s) word is enough,” Ball said.
Atkins held the victim’s head underwater after bashing her head onto rocks, he said.
“She is only alive because she knocked him off balance and ran for her life,” Ball said.
Atkins will be sentenced on May 17.