Rosario verdict split
A Topeka resident charged with the December 2013 rape and attempted murder of a Holton woman was found guilty on six of eight counts by a Jackson County District Court jury on Wednesday.
Chase Rosario stood quietly as District Court Judge Micheal Ireland read a copy of the verdict as submitted by a jury foreman. Rosario, who was charged with attempted capital murder, two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, two counts of rape, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery and criminal threat, was pronounced guilty on all but the attempted murder charge and one rape charge.
The charges against Rosario stemmed from an incident that reportedly occurred overnight on Dec. 19 and 20, 2013, in the home of a Holton woman who had reportedly been in a romantic relationship with Rosario for about three months. The woman testified that at the time of the incident, Rosario became violent after getting “paranoid” in his accusations of infidelity against her.
Ireland set Rosario’s sentencing for Friday, May 15, at which time it was estimated that Rosario would receive a sentence ranging anywhere from 12 to 54 years, according to Jackson County Attorney Shawna Miller. At this point, Rosario has credit for about 15 months already served at detention centers in Jackson and Shawnee counties, Miller said.
The verdict came after two and a half hours of deliberation, following a trial in which defense attorney Ron Evans of Topeka rested Rosario’s case with no testimony in court from the defendant or any other witnesses. The jury also heard the testimony of the Holton woman reported as the victim of the incident twice — once in a video recording of an interview given Dec. 23, 2013, and again in person on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.
The woman testified that Rosario repeatedly abused, beat and raped her at her home in Holton on Dec. 19 and 20, 2013, making her fear for her life and the life of her five-year-old daughter. She said she was able to escape from Rosario while in Topeka on the morning of Dec. 20, 2013, finding her way to Topeka police headquarters.
Since the incident, the woman said she has moved out of the house where the incident occurred and has not been back to the house alone, saying she feared “flashbacks” if she had to go back. She also told jurors that she later found a knife that was used to cut her while she was in the car with Rosario on the way to Topeka, and the discovery prompted a panic attack.
Evans’ apparent defense strategy, rather than attempting to prove Rosario’s innocence, focused on what he deemed poor decisions made by the woman, whether they involved how quickly she became “infatuated” with Rosario or why she did not attempt to escape sooner than she did. Evans also alleged that the woman not being truthful about her involvement with Rosario’s drug purchases.
“She tried to pretend that she knows nothing about PCP,” Evans said, referring to Rosario’s purchase of the drug phencyclidine, which she and Rosario reportedly used a few days before the December 2013 incident. “The truth is that she was all in that transaction. She knew what she was helping him buy.”
Evans’ focus on the woman’s actions rather than on those of Rosario was called out during closing arguments by Miller, who said the woman’s actions were not “an excuse for the acts that were committed against her.” Miller also reminded jurors that Rosario admitted to some of the violent actions described in the woman’s testimony given during an interview with law enforcement after the incident — an interview watched on Tuesday by the jury.
Furthermore, Miller argued, the woman still has visible evidence of the actions Rosario committed against her, as evidenced when the woman showed what remained of the scars she reportedly received in the December 2013 incident at her home. Miller also said that had the woman not eventually mustered the courage to escape, “we could have just as easily been looking at autopsy photos today.”
Jurors were given the choice of finding Rosario guilty on alternate, lesser charges of attempted murder in the first degree or second degree if they did not find him guilty of the attempted capital murder charge during deliberations. On the aggravated battery charge, jurors also were given the option of convicting Rosario on an alternate charge of simple battery if they so chose.
Following the reading of the verdict, in which jurors said they did not find Rosario guilty of any of the attempted murder charge levels, Evans asked for a poll of the jury. All 12 jurors said they agreed with all of the verdicts.