Four chosen for jury in Navy football player's trial

April 03, 2007|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,Sun reporter

WASHINGTON -- In a marathon day in court that foreshadowed the key elements of a former Navy football player's military trial on sexual misconduct charges, prosecution and defense lawyers whittled down a potential jury pool from 15 officers to four yesterday.

The Naval Academy officers answered detailed, personal questions on a variety of topics, including Navy football, sexual assault at the academy, the definition of "indecent" sex and the credibility of an alleged victim who admitted to drinking alcohol underage and who did not cry out for help while she was allegedly being assaulted.

Kenny Ray Morrison, a 24-year-old backup linebacker for Navy, stands accused of two counts of indecent assault and conduct unbecoming an officer. He is alleged to have had nonconsensual sex with one woman during a rowdy party in a Georgetown hotel in February 2006 and with a second at a home in April 2006.

Both women said in a preliminary hearing last year that the sex was not consensual, although they confessed to having spotty recollections, and Morrison's attorney has repeatedly said the sex was consensual. A senior, Morrison was kept from graduating last year and was reassigned to menial duties at the Washington Navy Yard, where his court-martial is taking place.

Witness lists read aloud at the opening of the trial indicated that Navy coach Paul Johnson might take the stand on behalf of Morrison. Current and former players were also on the lists, since most of the allegations against Morrison relate to activity at a party on Feb. 6, 2006, that was attended by many members of the team.

Eleven of the 15 potential "members," as jurors are termed in military trials, were eliminated for a variety of reasons, including having been falsely accused of rape, having a spouse who was sexually assaulted and stating that they were less likely to believe an alleged victim was raped if she didn't call out for help.

The panel of four jurors that remained included three men and one woman, all of whom are assigned at the Naval Academy. Three are Naval officers and one is a Marine officer; three teach at the academy.

Because four is one short of the number needed for a general court-martial, the academy will have to gather more potential jurors for both legal teams to screen tomorrow.

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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