Richmond police officers are found not guilty in witness-intimidation case

3 acquitted of witness tampering charges

gkocher1@herald-leader.comMarch 30, 2010 

RICHMOND — A Madison Circuit Court jury found three Richmond police officers not guilty Monday on all charges of intimidating or tampering with a witness.

Sgt. James Rogers was acquitted on alternative counts of intimidating a witness or tampering with a witness. Officers Garry Murphy and Brian Hensley were acquitted on alternative counts of complicity to commit intimidation of a witness or complicity to tampering with a witness.

Murphy was also found not guilty on a misdemeanor assault count in which he was accused of slapping or striking the witness, a woman with whom all three men had an Oct. 26 sexual encounter involving domination role-playing.

The jury deliberated for a little more than three hours Monday night before returning separate verdicts. The three officers had been suspended without pay pending resolution of the criminal charges.

Defense attorney Jim Deckard said he and co-counsel Scott Crosbie were "very pleased that the jury has vindicated these three police officers of every charge and allegation."

"We look forward to working with city officials toward a prompt reinstatement of our clients," Deckard said.

Commonwealth's Attorney David Smith had no comment on the verdicts.

The woman testified that Murphy and Rogers had urinated in her mouth. The police officers were not charged with sexual assault because the woman maintained that the acts were consensual, although a neighbor and others said they thought she had been assaulted.

But the prosecution said that the sexual acts were the context for the assault and that the police officers exerted influence to have the woman change the story she told investigators with the Madison County Sheriff's Office.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Hall Smith asked the jury to convict. "I ask you not to let her (the victim) down, and more importantly, I ask you not to let the system of justice down," Smith said.

The defense argued that the intimidation that the woman felt came from prosecutors and the Madison County Sheriff's Office in the investigating of the case. Crosbie said in his closing argument that there was enough doubt about the prosecution's version of events to acquit all three defendants.

"They don't have evidence of a crime, and they certainly don't have evidence of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt," Crosbie told the jury.

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