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Guilty verdict returned in rape case

Antonio Raheem Matthews

A 12-member jury returned a guilty verdict on all eight felony counts Friday morning in state district court in Grand Forks after about 90 minutes of deliberating in the rape trial of Antonio Raheem Matthews.

“A lot of credit needs to be given to those young women,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Meredith Larson, referring to the two women who testified earlier this week about the September night they were raped at gunpoint in their home.

They testified a man broke into their apartment in the north end of Grand Forks through the patio door at about 1 a.m. Sept. 30. He threatened them with a handgun, stole their cell phones and several hundred dollars and raped them in turn.

Assistant State’s Attorney Jason McCarthy, who — along with Larson — specializes in prosecuting personal crimes, said in an earlier interview that this type of case is “extremely rare.”

“Most of our sexual crimes involve people who know each other,” he said.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), about two thirds of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.

Matthews, 21, was convicted of three counts of gross sexual imposition, all class AA felonies; two counts of robbery; one count of terrorizing and two counts of felonious restraint.

Each count of gross sexual imposition carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Matthews’ sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m.

Strong case

Harmon Badger, the lead juror, said the detailed case that the prosecution put forward helped make the jury’s decision to convict him easier.

“The prosecution had a very organized and professional presentation,” he said.

Badger also commended police and the victims, calling the women “a couple of remarkable young adults who showed great courage.”

“We wish them very well in the future,” he said, speaking on behalf of the jury.

The prosecution’s case consisted of evidence gathered from Matthews’ home and vehicle, DNA analysis and testimony from the victims, police and community members.

The victims provided police with a detailed description of their attacker — including his clothing, tattoos and weapon — in the hours after the assault, something Larson said was vital.

The prosecution presented as evidence the black North Face jacket, white T-shirt with a red and gray design, purple polo shirt and black CO2 gun that resembled an M9 pistol — all described by the victims — that were found by police during a search of Matthews’ home and vehicle.

Police also found the victims’ cell phones in a compartment in Matthews’ vehicle where the tire jack was held.

 Jared Bosch, a neighbor of Matthews, told the jury earlier this week that he observed Matthews at his vehicle the night of the rape “messing” with what sounded like a tire jack.

 The victims also testified to their rapist’s tattoos. The one on his right hand was of stars and a name. The other was an arched tattoo with lettering on the man’s abdomen. The prosecution offered up pictures of Matthews’ tattoos: one on his right hand with stars and hearts reading “Chikia,” his mother’s name, and two with words going across his abdomen.

The state crime lab also found that the two victims “could not be excluded as contributors” to DNA found on the purple polo shirt confiscated from Matthews’ bedroom, meaning their DNA might have been present on the shirt.

Forensic scientist Jennifer Penner testified there is a relatively small pool of people —one in every 3.9 million Caucasian people — who could be identified as possible contributors to the DNA extracted from the polo shirt.

The defense did not call any witnesses to the stand. Matthews chose not to testify.