DuBois man acquitted of rape|
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
A DuBois man accused of raping a 71-year-old DuBois woman in her home was found not guilty on all charges by a jury yesterday afternoon.
Joe Brown, 60, was charged with rape, criminal attempt/involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault without the consent of other, indecent assault/forcible compulsion, and sexual assault.
Following the verdict, President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman ordered Brown to be processed and released from prison.
According to testimony, on Dec. 11 at 1:31 a.m. the alleged victim called 911 and reported Brown had raped her in her apartment. The DuBois City Police responded and arrested Brown. The alleged victim was taken to the DuBois Regional Medical Center where a sexual assault examination was performed.
The examination revealed the woman had bruises on her thighs, and breast and had internal and external bruising and tears and bleeding in her private parts.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for approximately 20 minutes before rendering its verdict.
After the verdict was read, Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw asked that the jury be polled saying he is "shocked" that there isn't at least one juror who believes the defendant had done something wrong.
But when polled all the jurors stated they were in agreement with the verdict.
When the verdict was read, Brown shook his head and sighed in relief.
"Mr. Brown has maintained his innocence from the beginning," said his attorney Michael Marshall of Clearfield. "I am pleased with the verdict."
Marshall said other than the medical evidence, he thought the rest of the trial went in his client's favor.
Marshall said it is also fortunate that Ammerman didn't agree to his request for a continuance because it would have meant Brown would have been in prison for an additional month.
Brown has been incarcerated at the Clearfield County Jail since Dec. 11 after failing to post bail.
Brown took the stand in his own defense yesterday. Under questioning by Marshall, Brown said he is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Army. He said he is originally from the Norristown area and moved to DuBois in 1997 to help care for a friend.
He said he got to know his accuser about 1998; he said they were both members of the Sandy Township Fire Department.
A couple of days before the incident Brown said he had stopped by the alleged victim's apartment to drop off a power cord he was letting her borrow. While there, she invited him to come over and watch television sometime.
On Dec. 10, Brown said he went to the state liquor store in DuBois and bought some wine. He said, prior to going to the liquor store, he purchased a six-pack of 16-ounce cans of Budweiser beer.
While at the liquor store, Brown said he called the woman and told her where he was and said he would be over in a couple of minutes.
She said "OK" and he drove over and parked in parking lot behind her building. While in the parking lot, Brown said he called the woman again and told her where he was and she replied that the door was open.
Brown said he drank a beer and some of the wine before going into her apartment. He said he knew the woman was a recovering alcoholic and doesn't allow alcohol in her home and respected her wishes and didn't bring it in. But he also said he informed the woman that he would be drinking that evening.
Brown said he didn't drink prior to arriving at the woman's apartment because he has a Breathalyzer interlock system installed in his vehicle. The Breathalyzer system requires Brown to blow into a machine that determines his blood alcohol content before starting the vehicle and if his BAC is above a certain level the car will not start.
Brown is required to have the system in his vehicle due to three previous DUI convictions.
Brown said he entered the woman's apartment sat down and started talking. He said every time he went to the woman's apartment she would always ask him to sit right next to her to talk.
After a while he said he went back outside and drank some more wine and went back inside. When asked if he was intoxicated, Brown said he was "buzzing" but didn't think he was drunk.
When he re-entered the woman's apartment, he said he sat down on the couch and shortly afterward said the woman started feeling his leg.
Brown said he reciprocated and they started kissing. Brown said he then asked the woman if she would like to go to the bedroom and she stood up and led him to the bedroom.
Once in the bedroom, he said he took off the woman's top and she removed her underwear. He said he then turned around and removed his glasses and placed them on the nightstand and when he turned back around she was already lying on the bed waiting for him. Brown said he took off his clothes and had sexual intercourse with the woman.
Afterward, the woman said she was going to the bathroom and he got up, put on his shirt and socks and went into the living room and sat on the couch but shortly afterwards fell asleep.
When asked by Marshall why he did not put his pants on when he went to the living room, Brown said he didn't know.
When asked if it was because he was intoxicated, Brown said "probably."
The next thing he remembers is being awoken by police. He said he was surprised to see them there and was wondering if they were there to warn him about something.
However, he said they told him he was accused of rape and was taken to the police station.
Marshall also called Deborah Carlson of DuBois to the stand. She testified that she knew the woman through her church, the DuBois Christian Missionary Alliance Church, and said they became friends.
She said the woman struggled financially and said the woman used the church's food pantry and said the church assisted financially with paying a bill.
Shortly after the alleged rape made the news, she went to the woman's residence to consol her. She said the woman told her about the rape in great detail and said she told her she no longer sleeps in her bed because of it.
But she said she was surprised because the woman told the story with little emotion.
"I guess I expected her to cry more," Carlson said.
Under cross-examination, when asked by Shaw if she was trained in counseling rape victims and knew how to recognize the coping strategies of victims and Carlson answered she wasn't.
Shaw also asked her if she knew Brown before this incident and Carlson said Brown and her daughter used to live together but are no longer together.
When Shaw asked her if she liked Brown, she answered, "I'm not a fan of Joe Brown."
Marshall recalled the alleged victim to the stand. Marshall asked her if she told Carlson about the alleged rape and if she made the statement to her that if Brown were convicted she could sue him for half of his salary.
She said she did tell her about the rape but didn't give her any details. She also admitted to making the statement about suing Brown.
A woman who lived in the apartment above the alleged victim's testified that she lived in the apartment since last June.
She said she knew the alleged victim but said they weren't friends and were more like acquaintances.
She said on the evening of Dec. 10 she and her daughter returned home at approximately 10:30 p.m. After putting away the groceries she said she went into her bedroom and played games on her cell phone before going to sleep about midnight.
She said she can often hear voices in the downstairs apartment, but didn't hear anything that night except that she did hear the downstairs apartment door open and close twice.
A couple of days afterwards, the alleged victim walked up the stairs to her apartment and asked her to pick up some toilet paper at the store for her. She said she also told her about the alleged rape and when she told her about it said she "looked normal" and didn't appear distraught.
When asked by Marshall, the woman said the police never came over to ask her about what happened that night.
During his closing statements, Marshall said the alleged victim's account of what happened was inconsistent and didn't make sense.
He said the victim's claim that Brown could remove her clothes while she was still standing without tearing her clothes even a little aren't credible as are the alleged victim's conflicting claims on why she didn't scream.
Marshall noted that the woman when first asked said she didn't scream because she didn't think her neighbors were home but then changed it and said she thought they might be home and said she tried to scream but nothing came out. When she was asked later by Shaw, the woman changed her story again and said she believed her neighbors were home.
Marshall argued that the sexual encounter was consensual and said perhaps after Brown became intoxicated and passed out on the couch she became upset and the woman's anxiety disorder or bi-polar disorder caused her to invent the rape story.
As for the medical report, Marshall said those injuries could have occurred as a result of consensual sex and said the bruises could have occurred earlier.
He also criticized the DuBois City Police Department for not sending the medical reports to the state police crime lab for analysis.
During his closing statements, Shaw said not all rape victims respond the same way and although she didn't cry doesn't mean she wasn't raped.
Shaw said the medical evidence proves that the encounter was painful to the victim and wasn't consensual.
He said victim's conflicting statements on the stand were a result of fatigue saying she had testified for several hours and towards the end she became tired and answered some of the questions incorrectly.
Following the trial, Shaw said he was disappointed with the verdict but said he respects the jury's decision.
He also said he is proud of the victim for coming forward and praised her for her courage and said her account of what happened that evening never changed.