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No verdict reached yet in Coast Guard court-martial

Panel members hear defense's evidence, closing arguments

Posted: August 30, 2012 - 10:12pm

Members of a court-martial panel began deliberating in the case against a U.S. Coast Guardsman accused of sexually assaulting another member of the Coast Guard in Valdez last January.

The panel — comprised of five officers and three enlisted Coast Guard members — broke to deliberate at about 8:20 a.m. Thursday after listening to two full day’s worth of evidence, as well as closing arguments, Tuesday and Wednesday.

A verdict was not reached by 5:15 p.m. Thursday, at which point the presiding military judge Captain Michael E. Tousley told them to reconvene at 8 a.m. Friday morning.

If a verdict is not reached by Friday evening, the panel will meet again on Saturday, and throughout the weekend, says Lt. Stanley Fields, a judge advocate for the Coast Guard who is serving as a spokesman for the case.

Prosecutors allege Fireman Roque E. Trevino, 23, sexually assaulted a petty officer third-class, also 23, who was stationed in Valdez the night of Jan. 3, 2011.

Trevino is facing three charges, or specifications, under Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice — two for aggravated sexual assault and one for abusive sexual contact. Aggravated sexual assault is punishable by up to 30 years in military jail; abusive sexual contact, seven years.

That means if convicted, Trevino facing a maximum prison sentence of 67 years.

Defense attorneys, however, say the sexual encounters that evening were consensual.

No physical or forensic evidence was introduced in the case, which essentially pitted the alleged victim’s statements against Trevino’s statements.

On Wednesday, Trevino’s attorneys tried to make the case that the alleged victim was dishonest, not credible and had motive to lie. They say she felt “shame, regret, embarrassment” after being “caught” by her Coast Guard friends having consensual sex with Trevino.

That’s contrary to the prosecutors side of the story, whose two eye witnesses testified finding their extremely intoxicated friend, whom they knew for only a month or two, motionless on a stairwell leading to her apartment in a state of undress with Trevino. They described her as being in a rag-doll state, unable to lift her limbs, dress herself, stand without assistance, or open the door to her apartment.

Trevino is represented by U.S. Navy Lt. Michael Hanzel and U.S. Navy Lt. Sarah Dorsett, who are based out of Bremerton, Wash., but represent Coast Guard defendants since the Coast Guard does not have defense attorneys.

Hanzel and Dorsett constructed a new narrative, saying the woman had consensual sex with Trevino to try to make the man she wanted to be her boyfriend jealous. The two lawyers charged that the alleged victim called the out-of-state man in Orlando that night and told him “the real story.” Defense attorneys say the woman later walked back her story when she realized her career was at stake.

The man, now a college student in Florida, testified on Wednesday for the defense about the 3 a.m. phone call, and shared some of the details with the court-martial panel members. He added that she didn’t sound drunk at the time.

Also called to the stand was an expert witness, Dr. Mark A. Koenen. Koenen is a forensic psychiatrist currently in private practice in Seattle who specializes in the fields of substance abuse and memory.

Koenen testified in the defense team’s favor, saying that the woman’s memories of that night were “not consistent with a black-out.”

During closing arguments that lasted an hour, the defense team further portrayed their client as a patriotic Guardsman with outstanding military character. Two of Trevino’s Coast Guard coworkers testified on his behalf.

At the time of the alleged offense, Trevino was stationed on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Long Island and he is now an E-3 who works in the engineering department for Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.

“Fireman Trevino is an innocent young man who did what guys do in bars,” Hanzel said. “He just picked the wrong girl.”

To that, prosecutor Lieutenant Commander Tamara Wallen replied during her closing arguments, “The defense says he picked the wrong girl. It’s true — he picked the drunk girl.”

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

Editors' note: Due to the sensitive nature of this article, the commenting feature has been removed. Thank you for your understanding.

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