11:44 am EDT July 20, 2006
Finds Owens Not Guilty Of Rape In Court-Martial
By WASHINGTON -- News4's
Pat Collins reported Thursday that a jury has found Midshipman
Lamar Owens of Savannah, Ga., not guilty of rape.
The jury has found Owens guilty of conduct unbecoming of an
officer and violating a legal order or regulation in connection
with incidents that occurred in January.
A jury of five Naval officers has been deliberating criminal
charges against the Naval Academy's former quarterback.
The jury verdict did not have to be unanimous. Only two-thirds
of the jury had to agree for a guilty verdict.
Jury Deliberates In Naval Academy Court Martial
"They have determined, obviously, that the consensual
act took place," Cmdr. John Maksym, the judge, said, adding
that the jury of five Naval officers found that Owens "wrongfully
entered the room without permission and wrongfully engaged in
Owens, standing at attention as the verdicts were read, showed
no emotion. He remains free without bond. He was not allowed
to graduate or receive a commission in May, and remains a midshipman.
Pat Collins reported Thursday that in the military system,
jury members are required to vote by a secret ballot and no
members are allowed to abstain. There are no hung juries, but
once the verdict is decided, the jury can ask for a re-vote
before the judge announces the decision.
Neither Owens' accuser nor her family was in court when the
verdict was read.
A female midshipman alleged that Owens came to her room at
the academy's dormitory, got in her bed and forced himself on
Owens testified during the court-martial that the young woman
sent him an invitation by instant message, then tugged on his
sweater minutes after his arrival, indicating she wanted him
to join her on the bed.
Both Owens and his accuser testified that they had several
drinks at separate locations in Baltimore and Annapolis in the
hours before their early-morning encounter, but other witnesses
have said the young woman was seen having as many as nine drinks
at a restaurant and later at an Annapolis bar favored by midshipmen.
The judge told jurors Thursday that if the accuser offered
her consent, and then fell asleep, and Owens stopped the encounter,
the act did not constitute rape.
The punishment phase will start in court Friday morning. Prosecutors
recommended a sentence of two years on the conduct unbecoming
charge; Maksym tabled discussion of a sentence on the failure
to obey a lawful order charge until Friday.
The judge said he would also consider to whether to set aside
either of the charges.
Owens was a team captain and starting quarterback for Navy
last season, leading the team to record of 8-4 with victories
over Army and Air Force, and a win over Colorado State in the