Jury out after nine hours of rape trial deliberation
January 12, 2008
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — A military jury that had not reached a verdict in a rape case against a senior airman after more than nine hours of deliberation Thursday was to resume the effort Friday morning at Osan Air Base.
The jury was weighing the verdict in the court-martial of Senior Airman Gabriel R. Contreras, who is accused of helping bring about the alleged rape of a female airman last February in her dorm room.
Contreras, of Osan’s 51st Munitions Squadron, is accused of bringing Senior Airman Joshua L. Amundson to the woman’s dorm room for a sexual threesome after Contreras had consensual sex with the woman, according to prosecutors.
The court-martial began Tuesday before military judge Col. Mark L. Allred, chief regional military judge for the Pacific region, and a seven-member jury of Air Force officers and noncommissioned officers.
The jury began deliberating its verdict Thursday afternoon, but Allred excused them for the night at about 10:30 p.m.
Contreras is charged with conspiracy to commit an indecent act, housebreaking, indecent assault, and rape.
Contreras pleaded guilty to committing an indecent act for touching the woman’s genital area while Amundson looked on, a crime under U.S. military law. But he pleaded not guilty to the other charges, and his lawyers said the sex was strictly consensual.
For allegedly bringing Amundson to the room for a possible sexual encounter, Contreras was charged with conspiracy to commit an indecent act. His allegedly touching her while she slept led to the charge of indecent assault; allegedly opening the unlocked door to the woman’s room and going in with the intent of committing an indecent act led to the housebreaking charge.
Amundson also faces court-martial on charges stemming for the incident.
“This accused took care of his wingman by serving her up on a platter,” senior prosecutor Capt. Amber Hirsch told jurors in a closing argument, invoking an Air Force credo that airmen should look out for the welfare of fellow airmen.
After consensual sex with the woman, Hirsch said, Contreras “goes and brags about his sexual conquest,” then brought Amundson to the room and encouraged him to have sex with the woman. The woman testified she woke to find Amundson having sex with her.
“There was no rape,” countered senior defense counsel Capt. Aaron E. Woodward in his closing argument.
“She was able to consent,” he said, arguing that the alleged victim had testified she had consensual sex that same night with Contreras and a third male airman.
Further, Woodward argued, the woman testified she could not recall in detail what happened while Contreras and Amundson were in her room.
“She can give you no details as to what happened … I ask you to consider that strongly,” Woodward told jurors. “She cannot tell you … Is there reasonable doubt? Absolutely.”