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Jury to deliberate in Everson trial after judge reduces charges

BY HAYLEY BRUCE | JANUARY 19, 2011 7:10 AM

(Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)
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The defense didn’t call a single witness. The defendant didn’t testify, and his attorney didn’t present a single piece of evidence to the jury Tuesday.

Instead, Leon Spies, defense attorney for former Hawkeye football player Cedric Everson opted to go straight to closing arguments after a judge decided to reduce Everson’s charges from second- to third-degree sexual abuse but not acquit him.

Now, Everson could face up to 10 years in prison, as opposed to the 25 his original second-degree sexual-abuse charge held.

The decision to present no witnesses was described as “unusual” by one expert.

“In a high-profile rape case, you typically expect for the defense to have a theory of the case,” said University of Colorado law Professor and former defense attorney Aya Gruber. “Including why it is that the jury should believe that [the alleged victim] is not telling the truth about what happened and would present some evidence on it in support of the theory.”

She also said the reduction in charges was unlikely to influence the jury’s deliberation.

Everson, 21, and former teammate Abe Satterfield, 22, were originally charged with second-degree sexual abuse after allegedly sexually assaulting a former Hawkeye athlete in an unoccupied Hillcrest dorm room more than three years ago. Satterfield later entered a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony against Everson.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Paul Miller said the state didn’t provide enough evidence to prove Satterfield aided and abetted Everson in the crime, the key difference between the two levels of sexual abuse.

Johnson County assistant prosecutor Anne Lahey began her hourlong closing argument by describing each element of the charges and summarizing each witness’ testimony, using an oversized drawing pad with handwritten notes in black and red marker.

Lahey’s argument centered on the accuser’s emotional testimony.

The prosecutor reminded the jury the alleged victim, who testified she never gave Satterfield consent, didn’t know Everson was involved until authorities told her they found his DNA in her rape kit — meaning she could not have given him consent, Lahey said.

“[The alleged victim] cooperated with everyone at the University of Iowa, she had interviews with several people, and what is key here is that she never mentioned Cedric Everson,” Lahey said. “She had no knowledge at that time that he was involved.”

But while Lahey painted the incident as an attack, Spies — aided by a PowerPoint presentation — portrayed the night as a series of mistakes.

“What happened on the evening of Oct. 13 and in the early morning hours of Oct. 14 resulted from a toxic mixture of alcohol, prescription drugs, hormones, immaturity, and bad choices,” Spies said.

He focused on inconsistencies in the testimony of the state’s witnesses, asking the jury if they would bet their “entire life savings” or “send a child into surgery” based on the evidence presented by the state.

“Amnesia does not mean helpless,” he said. “[The alleged victim’s] purposeful, voluntary actions show that she was in functional blackout. She was able to walk, talk, communicate, laugh, run without any memory.”

In her rebuttal, Lahey told the jurors Spies wanted to portray the alleged victim as a “sexual siren,” and Everson and Satterfield were merely her “beneficiaries.” Countering that portrayal, Lahey said all witness’ testimony portrayed the woman as a goal-driven student who rarely went out or drank alcohol. While Lahey admitted Satterfield got a good deal for his testimony, he never changed his story.

At the end of her rebuttal, Lahey pointed to Everson.

“Football is and should be a team sport,” she said. “Sexual assault is not … and when [Everson and Satterfield] saw [the alleged victim] in that room that night they just saw a body of a young woman that was something that they could use. What they didn’t see was her inner guts and her maturity to say this was wrong.”

The jury will continue deliberation at 9 a.m. today in the Johnson County Courthouse.


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