Man found not guilty of rape

March 22, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

A Carroll Circuit Court jury took less than 90 minutes yesterday to find Lonnie Layton Price not guilty of raping and kidnapping a Westminster woman along a dark road last year.

"I'm very pleased with the outcome," said Carroll Public Defender Barbara Kreinar, who represented the 38-year-old Reisterstown man during his 2 1/2 -day trial. "I think justice was served well in this case."

Mr. Price smiled faintly as the jury foreman said "not guilty" to each of the four charges.

Mr. Price's accuser, who was sitting in the first row behind the jury box clenching her husband's hand, stifled tears as the verdicts were returned.

"The state stands by the victim," said Assistant State's Attorney Christy McFaul. "We feel certain that a rape has occurred."

Mr. Price was arrested in January on a four-count indictment that charged him with second-degree rape, fourth-degree sex offense, kidnapping and assault with intent to rape.

The indictment had charged that Mr. Price raped the woman along Bethel road Sept. 15, 1993, after the woman offered him a ride home from a Reese bar.

Throughout the trial, Mr. Price's attorney argued that the sex that night was consensual.

"She was going to go home with a man," Ms. Kreinar said in her closing argument to the jury of six men and six women. "They went out, talked, and did what it was they were going to do, and said, 'See you Friday.' "

According to testimony, the woman -- whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy -- had a fight with her husband Sept. 15 and decided to go out for a drink. She went to the Reese Inn near Finksburg, where she had several beers and eventually left with Mr. Price.

She said she offered him a ride to his grandmother's house, where he lived. He said the two agreed to ride out to the country and have sex.

According to testimony, after the two had sex, the woman dropped Mr. Price at his grandmother's, then drove to Hanover, Pa., to see a friend, who wasn't home.

When she got back to Westminster, she crashed her car into a telephone pole on Pennsylvania Avenue.

She spent the next five days in the hospital. She didn't tell her husband about the alleged rape until Oct. 3, which defense lawyers pointed to again and again.

"She just wanted to stay married," Ms. Kreinar said in her closing arguments. "It took . . . days for her to come up with a story to save her marriage. It took . . . days to come up with the story that began the nightmare for Lonnie Price." The defendant never took the witness stand, but nine people -- including Reese Inn patrons who said they saw the woman make advances toward Mr. Price -- testified on his behalf.

Despite his acquittal, Mr. Price will remain in the Carroll County Detention Center at least for today. He faces charges of auto theft and more than 80 counts of forgery, according to court records.

State Police Tfc. C. Michael Vanek, who served the forgery warrant on Mr. Price in January, said that Mr. Price is accused of stealing and cashing more than $3,300 worth of checks from his mother and grandmother.

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