Jury acquits Mount Airy man accused of rape

February 09, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

A Carroll County jury yesterday acquitted a 29-year-old Mount Airy man who was accused of raping a 22-year-old woman last August.

Defendant Joseph P. Spencer smiled -- then cheered loudly -- as the jury foreman said "not guilty" to two counts of first-degree rape and one count each of second-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, false imprisonment and battery.

"I am so glad," said his attorney, Willie Mahone of Frederick. "This verdict just shows the integrity of the jury system and how it can work in a fair and impartial manner."

Mr. Spencer was charged after the woman accused him and Donald Eugene Lyles of sexually assaulting her at Mr. Spencer's Mount Airy home. Lyles pleaded guilty to second-degree rape last week and testified for the prosecution at Mr. Spencer's trial.

According to trial testimony, Mr. Spencer and Lyles met the woman at a pay phone near a Frederick gas station Aug. 22. The woman said she was trying to get a ride to visit her grandmother near Washington when the two men asked her what she was doing.

They offered her a ride, and the three decided they wanted to smoke crack. They drove to a Frederick housing project, bought the drugs and drove to Mr. Spencer's home.

The three smoked crack, drank beer, then made another trip to Frederick to buy more crack and returned, according to testimony. Afterward, both men allegedly had sexual relations with the woman. Then the woman left the house and flagged down a passing motorist.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill tried to convince the jury that regardless of the woman's drug abuse and bad judgment, she didn't consent to sex that night.

"The law doesn't say only good girls get protection in this country," Ms. Hill said in closing arguments. "She told you she was mad that this happened to her. . . . The community should be mad that this happened to her."

"There was not enough evidence that he did it," said one juror, who declined to give his name, after the verdict. "We had reasonable doubt."

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