KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — A senior airman who accused an Air Force master sergeant of rape testified Tuesday that when she awoke in her bed to find herself engaged in a sexual act after a 2005 Halloween party, she assumed she was with her boyfriend.
“I thought it was him, so I was fine,” she said.
She said she awoke twice for a few seconds each time before drunkenly dozing off. When she fully awoke and felt the man wiping her off, she said, “I knew something wasn’t right.”
She said that she turned around and saw that the man was Master Sgt. Garron Merritt, her former supervisor, with whom she’d danced earlier that night at a squadron party.
Merritt, who also is charged with forcible sodomy, burglary and adultery in the case, told a different story when he testified later Tuesday. He said the woman invited him to her dorm room and that the sex was consensual.
He said that she seemed upset, asking him, “Is that it?” after five to ten minutes of sex. He said he told her “yes” because he had an early morning golf tee time.
He also denied there was oral sex.
During closing statements to the seven men serving as jurors, civilian defense attorney Charles W. Gittins argued that some women “make up rape allegations” for such reasons as anger, revenge, mental illness, and the desire to obtain an advantage.
“Of course she was angry,” he said of the woman. “She had just been used” and the night wasn’t the “romantic evening” she had expected.
He also criticized the woman’s claim she was drunk at the time of the incident.
“The issue was, ‘Was she able to consent?’ and she told you she was,” Gittins told the jurors. He pointed to testimony from the doctor who examined her that night after she called 911.
Maj. Todd Huhn testified he noticed no “evidence of intoxication” during the examination at the hospital. If he had noticed something like slurred speech or other indicators of intoxication, he said, he would have drawn blood to measure her blood alcohol level for medical reasons and for any criminal investigation.
But lead prosecutor Lt. Col. Vance Spath, of Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., argued during his closing comments that Huhn had never conducted a rape examination before that day and that he had his hands full following the rules of the strict examination.
As to questions of her sobriety, Spath pointed to testimony from various witnesses.
“Everybody knows she was drinking. Everybody knows she was intoxicated,” he said.
The key question jurors must ask, Spath argued, is, “Was she really capable of consenting?” to sex with the master sergeant.
Col. Steven A. Hatfield, the chief military judge of the Pacific Circuit from Yokota Air Base, Japan, told the jurors to deliberate until 5 p.m. Tuesday, then resume Wednesday morning.