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10:47 PM Mon, Sept. 24th

No verdict in rape, assault trial

PRESCOTT – After five hours of deliberation Wednesday, jurors will have to wait five days before resuming discussions Monday on the guilt or innocence of Richard Castaneda.

Prosecutor John Erickson and defense attorney Ken Ray presented their closing arguments in the case, in which the 35-year-old Prescottonian faces charges of aggravated assault, sexual assault and kidnapping for allegedly beating and sodomizing a 23-year-old man in January.

Erickson reminded the jury of the substantial beating that the victim received during the ordeal, in which he said Castaneda beat him with a rock and stabbed him with darts before forcing him into sex acts.

He pointed to a post-incident picture of the victim, his face bloody and bruised, and challenged jurors to overlook the defense claim that the younger man was the instigator of the incident.

"Clearly," Erickson said, "this kid was in no condition to consent to anything after the pummeling he got."

Both Castaneda and the victim delivered emotional testimony during the trial, which began last week. Castaneda insists he passed out or fell asleep after taking drugs, then awoke to find the victim trying to instigate sex. That so enraged him, he said, that he administered the beating.

In his closing argument, Ray said that his client did not deserve to be facing the long prison stretch that would accompany his conviction on the felony charges.

"(Castaneda) was the one who was violated here," he said, "yet he is the one who has been put on trial."

Testimony in the trial, before Superior Court Judge William Kiger, concluded earlier than expected, leaving the court and jurors with a scheduling problem. Deliberations could have continued today, but some jurors had made plans for their scheduled days off from the trial, leading Kiger to delay their return until Monday, the case's next scheduled day.