DA: Rape charges against UAS student will be dismissed

Posted: Sunday, May 09, 2010

Charges against a University of Alaska Southeast student who allegedly raped his female roommate will likely be dismissed once he completes a treatment program, a district attorney said Friday.

Twenty-one-year-old Dominic Merrill, of Arizona, was accused of raping a female roommate in their co-ed UAS campus apartment Jan. 23 after they returned from an on-campus social gathering where alcohol was consumed. He was arrested Jan. 28 and later plead not guilty to five counts of felony sexual assault.

District Attorney Doug Gardner on Friday said that he would be dismissing the sexual assault charges against Dominic Merrill, as additional information has come to light. The new information is not yet being released to the public.

"I have reviewed the information with the Juneau Police Department," Gardner said. "Based on that information and in the interest of justice, I feel the charges should be dismissed, and I anticipate that happening on June 10."

June 10 is when Merrill's trial was set to begin.

Merrill is currently in a treatment program that will be completed in early June. Gardner declined to comment about what type of treatment program Merrill was undergoing, or where the program is located. Merrill was not in court on Friday.

Following Merrill's arrest, Gardner told the Empire, "The assaults in this case are documented. There are pictures. There are internal injuries. The incident can only be described as a brutal and mean and degrading assault."

Defense attorney Michael O'Brien said in February that the victim called him before the grand jury convened, and asked him for help in getting the case dismissed.

"I think even the alleged victim in this case would not object to his release," he told the court.

The victim told police in January that she helped Merrill back to his room in the apartment they shared after a night of playing poker and drinking Jan. 23 at an on-campus apartment. She said Merrill then locked the two of them in his room, blocked the door and assaulted her repeatedly.

On Jan. 25, a third party called police to report the assault. Police obtained a search warrant during the investigation to record conversations between Merrill and the victim.

In one recording Merrill tells the victim, "I am sorry for hurting you in every way. I am sorry about the bites and bruises. I wish I could take it all back. I thought about flying home. I thought about locking myself away because I felt like a monster. When I drink a lot I black out. I promise nothing like this will happen again."

Merrill does not have a criminal record in Alaska but he has been convicted of drunken driving three times in Arizona, according to records.

• Contact Klas Stolpe at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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