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Man found not guilty in rape trial

Jury took 20 minutes to return verdict

POSTED: May 8, 2009 10:47 a.m.
It took 20 minutes Wed-nesday for a jury in Liberty County Superior Court to clear a man of a rape charge pertaining to an incident that allegedly occurred in June 2007.
Reginald Antonio Roberts breathed a sigh of relief and hugged his 3-year-old son, Xavier Antonio. His attorney, Richard Braun, congratulated the 27-year-old and thanked the jury for their quick verdict, ending a nearly two-year battle.
“The legal system did its job today,” Braun said in his only comment to the media.
Roberts was indicted by the Liberty County Grand Jury on Feb. 12, 2008, on one count of rape. The indictment stemmed from an alleged incident on June 22, 2007, when a woman claimed she was raped at Roberts’ home near Oglethorpe Highway.
Roberts and the woman knew each other through the military. He was an honorably discharged soldier working as a supply clerk contractor for Black Hawk Management. Sometimes his work took him to Iraq. The victim is an active soldier. Roberts said they talked, swapped numbers and began to flirt.
According to Roberts’ testimony, he was separated from his wife at the time of the incident and had been dating other women. He said he told the plaintiff he was not interested in a serious relationship since he was looking after his son and thinking about going back to Iraq for more work. Roberts said he did find the woman attractive.
On the night in question, Roberts said the woman came to his house uninvited and brought her children. Roberts’ son was already asleep and he put her children in his son’s room.
He said they talked, one thing led to another.
The state’s testimony accused Roberts of drinking that evening and spiraling out of control. Assistant District Attorney Melissa Poole described a scenario where Roberts allegedly lifted the woman up by her neck, nearly choking her while pushing her against a vanity.
On the stand, Roberts denied he was drinking or violent.
During closing arguments, Poole asked the jury to recall the testimony of the woman’s 10-year-old son, who said he heard his mother yell, “Stop.”
The defense argued there was too much reasonable doubt and a lack of physical evidence to convict Roberts of rape. Braun cited a lack of any visible bruising on the plaintiff’s neck and body.
Poole argued against the defense’s claim of lack of evidence, citing testimony of expert witnesses who said the lack of bruising or scarring is not enough to conclude there was no rape.
Poole asked the jury to consider why someone would go through the pain of reliving the ordeal if they were not speaking the truth.
Superior Court Judge David Cavender gave the case to the jury and sent them to the deliberation room around 4:37 p.m. By 5 p.m., the jury was headed home.
“It feels good,” Roberts said after the verdict had been read. “I mean, I’ve had this on my back for two years.”
He said the ordeal has strained his relationships with women because he fears someone else might make unfounded accusations.
“I’m a father of one and I love my child to death,” he said. “I would never disrespect another woman or jeopardize my son. I love my son … I love everybody. My mother raised me better than that.”
Roberts said he was headed to Atlanta to spend some time with his son at the Georgia Aquarium. Afterwards, he plans to go back to Iraq for work.
“I thank God its over,” his mother Terri Roberts said.
Afraid of the verdict, she waited outside the court room and began to cry as the jurors walked out and told her the not guilty verdict.
“Oh, Lord, thank you, Jesus,” she said. “God is good, He’s able. That is my oldest son and I knew he didn’t rape nobody.”
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