Hung jury: No decision in Maurer case

SIDNEY – A 12-person jury was not able to reach a decision in a rape case concerning a Botkins man in the Shelby County Court of Common Pleas Wednesday.

Judge James Stevenson sent the jurors back to deliberate a second time, resulting again in a hung jury. A hearing will be held Thursday, Sept. 7, at 1 p.m. to determine what happens next in this case.

The defendant, Aaron Maurer, 27, of Botkins, is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl with a vibrator in his home while his wife, child and sister were upstairs on July 15, 2016.

Maurer testified before the court Wednesday, explaining the incident and what he believed happened during the course of that night.

Maurer explained that he believed the girl had been flirting with him for some months, that she had showed her pubic region to him that night and assisted in removing her shorts.

“She did not in any way, state or form say, ‘No,’” Maurer said. “She opened her legs.”

On Tuesday, the teen had testified, repeatedly speaking about how she said, “No,” and “Stop,” and tried to discontinue the incident. After the incident, the teen left Maurer’s residence and went to the nearby home of a friend. Maurer says he didn’t understand why she left.

“I didn’t feel I did anything wrong,” he testified. “Morally, yes, criminally, no.”

Maurer explained that a Snapchat photo, which he had subsequently sent the girl, was in reference to how he had betrayed his wife and his family, not in reference in how he behaved with with her. The photo was saved by the teen as a screen shot. It was a black screen with the sentence, “I will never behave that way ever again to anyone.”

The defendant also testified that even though he did not know that the teen was going to law enforcement with her claims, he set about finding an attorney on the morning of July 16, 2016. County Prosecutor Tim Sell noted the first time Maurer told his story to anyone besides his attorney or family was before the court on Wednesday, a year and two months after the incident.

Even so, Maurer was very clear about the events, answering with firm time frames and distinct explanations for why he moved to the couch, rubbed the teen’s stomach, covered her with a blanket and why law enforcement officers could not find him when they arrived on the morning of July 16. Maurer’s testimony was not so clear about why he produced the vibrator or why he used specific phrasing on the Snapchat message he sent to the victim after she left.

Other testimonies, Wednesday, came from Darla Church, who works as a sexual assault nurse examiner; Sarah Grimsley, who does DNA testing for the Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI); Timothy Augsback, who is a forensic scientist for BCI; Hanna Oakley, who is Maurer’s sister-in-law; and Rachelle Maurer, who is Maurer’s younger sister.

Church testified to the 12-person jury about the protocol and procedure she used during her examination of the teenager. She corroborated the teen’s testimony that there had been no violence so there were no signs of injury visible, and that the girl was “calm, with good eye contact.” Church also noted that the girl did not appear to be intoxicated.

Grimsley and Augsback testified to the scientific strength of their tests and the statistical strength of their conclusions in testing the rape kit, which supported the allegations against Maurer.

The most emotional testimony of the day was given by Oakley. She took the stand briefly, and tearfully said that the teen had told her what happened with Maurer and then asked Oakley not to not tell Oakley’s mother, a request Oakley did not comply with. Oakley also testified that she had then confronted Maurer during the night of the incident, and after yelling at him, he had become upset and left the house.

In their closing arguments, both attorneys noted the lack of dispute on whether a sexual act occurred, but focused instead on whether consent was given. Sell noted that in the definition of force, which is part of the definition of rape, force is not constrained to physical violence but extends to implied compulsion or threat.

“When you have a 16-year-old … tell you to stop, and he doesn’t, that is compulsion. That is exactly the definition of compulsion,” Sell said. “No means no, period.”

L. Patrick Mulligan, Maurer’s lawyer, responded, “There wasn’t a mark on her. Force — are you kidding me?” he said. “I would suggest consent can be given in several ways. After the incident, what was the conversation from (the teen)?” He then paraphrased earlier testimony: “Go clean (the vibrator). Hide the evidence. This shows that she was knowingly involved and wanted to hide it.”

Sell rebuffed this argument. “Unless she fights, all she can do is try talking him down, and she does — and it continues,” he said.

The case was given to the jury at about 2:15 p.m., Wednesday.

Jury begins deliberations

By Heather Willard

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.