No verdict yet in Marine's rape trial
GRAHAM – A jury is deciding the fate of a former Marine charged with raping an Elon University coed.
Superior Court Judge James E. Hardin Jr. suspended deliberations at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the trial of Johnathan V. Olson. The case went to the jury at mid-afternoon Tuesday. Deliberations resume at 9:30 this morning.
Olson, 20, is charged with second-degree rape, allegedly assaulting the coed – a former high school friend of his – in her dorm room during the early morning hours of Sept. 4, 2011. Olson received a less-than-honorable discharge from the Marines as a result of the incident. Testimony has stretched more than a week. The jury consists of seven males and five females.
During their closing arguments, defense attorney Julian Doby and Alamance County District Attorney Pat Nadolski – the prosecutor – painted greatly different pictures of what happened in the hours leading to the alleged assault.
Doby said the pair had consensual sex after both engaged in a night of heavy drinking. Nadolski said Olson raped the female after she had thrown up repeatedly and was passed out in her bed.
A statement Olson allegedly made to a military polygraph examiner has been a focus of debate. Hardin last week allowed the statement admitted as evidence. In it, Olson said he didn’t have the female’s explicit permission for sex, that she was more intoxicated than he’d initially led investigators to believe and he wasn’t certain she was awake when they had sex.
Nadolski said the statement proves Olson’s guilt. Olson said he made the statement under duress and it didn’t accurately portray his recollection of the events despite the fact he signed it and initialed it at several places.
“If you believe he made this statement, he’s guilty,” Nadolski said. “So he has to attack it.”
But Doby’s take on the statement varied tremendously. He said Olson met with Wayne Brown, a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigation Service at Camp Lejeune on Oct. 27, 2011. Doby said Olson had just finished a 24-hour stint of punitive duty as part of the punishment that followed the rape and underage drinking allegations.
Doby said Olson was a 19-year-old Marine eager to do what he could to get back in the good graces of his superiors. He was tired and not thinking clearly.
Doby said Brown administered a polygraph, then interviewed Olson for hours without taking notes or taping what was said. Doby said Olson grew so tired and agitated he at one point told Brown he’d sign anything just to get the session over.
“Another half-hour he might have him admitting to responsibility for the 9/11 attacks,” Doby said. “The guy wanted out of there, he was ready to go.”
Doby questioned the wording of the statement that Olson signed – allegedly in his own words. Doby said the language was nothing like Olson would have used and nothing like statements his client gave to other investigators during a taped interview given in the weeks following the alleged assault.
Doby made particular mention of Olson allegedly referring to the coed “moaning instinctively” in the statement Brown presented.
“It reads more like a Penthouse forum,” Doby said. “Penthouse letters.”
Nadolski countered that Olson testified Brown never threatened him or made him promises, noting even Olson testified the special agent said he wanted only the truth.
Nadolski presented members of the jury photographs of the alleged victim’s bruised hips and thighs – pictures taken the day following the alleged assault.
“Look there,” he said, “where’d they come from? She was in a passed-out state. That comes from not being able to say, ‘Stop.’ ”
Nadolski said to convict a person of second-degree rape it must be proved there was vaginal penetration, the victim was helpless and the defendant should have known the victim was helpless. The evidence was enough to convict, he said.
Doby placed three bottles of liquor in front of jury members. The liquor represented what Olson and others testified was consumed in the hours leading to the alleged rape.
“Alcohol causes bad judgment,” Doby said. “There were bad drunken decisions by both these individuals.”