Salt Lake City, UT – Three men who were accused of raping a 9-year-old girl while her mother was smoking methamphetamine were found not guilty May 9 by a jury after their lawyers said they couldn’t be convicted based on the girl's testimony.
Prosecutors unsuccessfully argued that the girl’s testimony that the three men grabbed and assaulted her after a March 27, 2016 Easter-egg hunt was enough to convict them, according to the St. George News.
The girl testified that she went with her mother to visit a from jail. The mother took her daughter to the house where the three men were staying in 2016.
The three men assaulted her in a back bedroom after she fell asleep on a couch. When the mother came back from garage where she had been smoking meth, her daughter was upset and her Easter dress was in disarray, according to the St. George News.
The defense had argued there wasn’t any blood, hair or serious injuries presented as evidence so the jury couldn’t be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defense attorneys said the child, who was now 11, was just repeating a story created by her paranoid mother who was angry at a former boyfriend who was a defendant in this case.
“If everything that she was saying was true, there should be some kind of physical evidence or injury to her,” said defense attorney Bryan Sidwell, according to the St. George News.
Physical evidence was unavailable, as prosecutors said the girl didn’t initially tell her mother about the assault because the men threatened to kill her if she did. Two days later, the girl told her mother, who then called police.
The prosecutors cited the Bill Cosby case as an example of where a jury came back with a guilty verdict with no physical evidence.
The jury of five men and three women deliberated for about three hours before the acquittal, according to the St. George News.
Defendants Larson RonDeau, 38, Randall Flatlip, 28, and Jerry Flatlip, 31, were not released after the verdict, according to the St. George News. They were held in custody to face additional charges, though some may be thrown out after the acquittal on rape and sodomy charges.
The mother has already pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor child abuse charge and was sentenced to jail and drug treatment, the St. George News reported. The girl is now being taken care of by her Native American tribe, according to authorities.
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