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Wed, July 24

Jury deadlocks in trial of man accused of raping friend's niece

Garin Becker

Garin Becker

PRESCOTT - The 12-person jury in the rape trial of Garin Becker began deliberations Wednesday morning, and by afternoon told the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked.

Becker, 25, was accused of the sexual assault and attempted sexual assault of a 21-year-old woman he met in a Prescott Valley bar through her uncle on June 9. The woman, who is married with two children, was staying with her sister-in-law while her husband was out of town, training with the National Guard.

Becker was alleged to have gone to the home in a car with the woman, her sister-in-law and another relative, then going into her bedroom and sexually assaulting her.

In his closing argument, Deputy County Attorney Steve Young said, "There is no evidence whatsoever that contradicts (the woman's) testimony as to what happened in that bedroom"

And, he added, after the assault, "the defendant fled the residence. He left, he got out of there. You know why he got out of there so quick? Because he raped her."

Young went on to point out that Becker went to a friend's house, where he got cleaned up, and when police arrived, "he was hiding in a back bedroom."

Defense attorney John Hollis pointed out what he called "contradictions" in the woman's story. She told police that he had first tried to have sex with her, but was slowed because she was wearing a tampon, and then later forced oral sex, but Hollis said, she told police the events happened in the reserve order.

Hollis pointed out that she claimed she had only spoken with Becker for a few minutes, but one of the prosecution's own witnesses testified that he'd seen Becker and the victim holding hands at the bar.

Becker's sister testified that she heard a female voice in the background when Becker called her late that night. The voice was "laughing, giggling, trying to get him to get off the phone," Hollis said. "A woman's voice," Hollis repeated.

During the time the alleged victim claimed the rape went on, her sister-in-law said she had turned on a bathroom fan to generate white noise as she slept and she heard no signs of a scuffle in the room next door.

"That must be the mother of all bathroom fans," scoffed Hollis. "It must be as loud as a 747 to drown out the sound of a sexual assault."

Finally, he said, the victim told Becker, "I want you to go."

"'Because I've just been sexually assaulted?' Is that what you say?" he asked.

Young responded, "It is outrageous to suggest she didn't react like someone who has been sexually assaulted. There's no handbook on how to react."

As the woman and her family exited the courtroom after hearing that the jury couldn't reach a decision, she broke down in tears.

The eight women and four men of the jury were split down the middle, one juror said afterwards.

"Wasn't even close. Six to six," said juror Paul Sandstrom. "We had two of the gals (on the jury) who didn't believe (the alleged victim) at all.

"The witnesses were too well-rehearsed," he added, and "it came down to 'he-said-she-said.'"

Young said, "These things happen. I think the jury tried hard... but they were unable to reach a verdict at this time."

Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley set another appearance for Becker on Jan. 23, when she said they could discuss a possible plea agreement.

The prosecution "would be interested in engaging in talks," Young said.


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