UPDATE: Derrick Washington found guilty of deviate sexual assault

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | 10:51 p.m. CDT; updated 9:49 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 22, 2011
Derrick Washington reacts to a guilty verdict for a charge of felony deviate sexual assault at the Boone County Courthouse on Wednesday. His father, Donald Washington, right, and mother, Sarah Washington, led him out of the courtroom.

COLUMBIA — Derrick Washington sobbed loudly while being escorted from a Boone County courtroom Wednesday after a jury found him guilty of deviate sexual assault by a unanimous vote.

As the jurors were polled, Washington, who hadn't reacted to testimony, sat with his head in his hands. In the gallery, his father slowly lowered his head into his hand and sat frozen for some time. His mother remained motionless.

Before proceedings began Wednesday, the family stood outside the courthouse hand in hand and prayed before Washington joined his attorneys in the court room. 

Washington, a former captain and starting tailback for MU's football team, was suspended indefinitely by head coach Gary Pinkel on Aug. 26, 2010, after the incident that sparked the sexual assault charges. 

Washington didn't take the stand during the trial. He could face up to seven years in prison.

The panel of six men and six women returned the verdict at 5:40 p.m. The day's testimony focused on the victim's roommate, Lauren Gavin, and the lead investigator for the case, Detective Sam Easley of the MU Police Department.

The jury also heard from the first MU Police detective to speak with the victim, the victim's sexual assault nurse examiner, a toxicology analyst and two of the victim's friends. On Tuesday, the victim, her father and another of the victim's roommates testified.

Washington was charged with deviate sexual assault in June 2010. An order of protection issued against him on June 22 of that year forbade him from communicating with or going to the victim's residence. The order stated Washington could not abuse, threaten, stalk, molest or disturb the victim.

The prosecution called Easley to the stand first. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Richard Hicks sought to show that the investigation didn't suffer because Easley had been out of town when the incident occurred and didn't begin looking into the case until about two days later.

During his cross-examination, Washington's attorney, Christopher Slusher, looked to show that the investigation was conducted poorly. He asked Easley if he had collected evidence at the victim's residence during the investigation, to which Easley responded that he hadn't.

Slusher also sought to highlight contradictions between statements by the victim and Easley's testimony about what she'd told him during his investigation.

"I was told by (the victim that) she was able to see the person leaving the room," Easley said. "She identified the defendant, Derrick Washington." 

On Tuesday, the victim testified that she could not see the person who assaulted her because her room was dark. 

Easley was called to the stand by the defense later in the day, his second testimony mirroring his first.

Next in line for the prosecution was one of the victim's roommates, Gavin, who had a sexual relationship with Washington. She testified during Hayes' direct examination that on the night of the incident, Washington had planned on coming to the apartment she shared with the victim.

Hayes focused on Gavin's testimony that Washington had admitted to fondling the victim. Gavin said that Washington entered her room, left and returned, after which the two got into an argument. 

Gavin testified that Washington told her during the argument that he had fondled the victim in her room. 

During Slusher's cross-examination of Gavin, he focused on her testimony that she did not report Washington's admission in her initial statement to Easley. At Slusher's prompting, Gavin said it took about six weeks after her initial statement to Easley to share what Washington had said.

"After I read some stuff, I didn't feel I would be OK with myself if I didn't say what I knew," she said during Hayes' redirect examination. 

The prosecution rested after Gavin's testimony.

MU Police Sgt. April Colvin, who responded to University Hospital's call about the victim, was the defense's first witness. She testified about her initial interview with the victim and wasn't cross-examined.

Christa Vogt, the victim's sexual assault nurse examiner, was called to the stand next. Vogt, who works at University Hospital, testified during direct examination that there was no physical evidence of a sexual assault to the victim.

Under Hicks' cross-examination, Vogt said that it was still possible that an assault had occurred despite the lack of physical evidence. 

Lisa Walker, a criminalist from the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory, testified about a urine sample collected from the victim during her examination. The sample was ordered to be tested for alcohol, but Walker said that urine samples are not good indicators of blood-alcohol content. The lab instead tested the sample for drugs, which came back negative.

Two of the victim's friends were called to testify about what she had told them after the incident. Caitlin Reynolds appeared in court, but Garry Frank's written deposition was read by Attorney Josh Oxenhandler.

Reynolds testified that she first spoke with the victim the following day, remembering that the victim "seemed calm but shocked." Frank's deposition described the victim as a "lightweight" when it came to alcohol and that she had described herself as "drunk" during a phone conversation the next day.

Hayes said she saw the outcome as a stepping stone for sexual assault victims. 

"These cases are always very difficult," Hayes said. "I hope this (verdict) encourages other women to come forward."

Washington's attorney declined to comment.

Hayes said she has yet to make a sentencing recommendation. At this time, Washington could face up to seven years in prison, a sentence that will be decided by Circuit Judge Kevin Crane. Washington waived his right to a jury sentencing Sept. 12.

Washington also was arrested in September 2010 on suspicion of third-degree domestic assault in connection with a dispute with his ex-girlfriend. According to the police report, Washington refused to leave the victim's home, grabbed her by the throat, pinned her down and struck her multiple times in the face. He then pressed his fingers into her eyes, she told police. The trial is set for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 30.

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