Jury acquits man accused of raping co-worker

Posted Oct. 16, 2008, at 10:09 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:58 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A jury on Thursday acquitted a Jamaican man on charges that he had raped a co-worker in Bar Harbor in August 2007.

The jury deliberated for almost four hours before finding Horace Blackwood, 26, of Hanover, Jamaica, not guilty on two counts of gross sexual assault and one count of burglary. The prosecution alleged that Blackwood, who worked at a local hotel that summer, had followed the victim from a party to a rented employee apartment where they both lived and then assaulted her as she slept. She told police that she did not see the face of her assailant.

Police matched DNA samples from the victim to samples of Blackwood’s DNA taken from items at his apartment, according to court documents.

Blackwood never denied that he and the victim had intercourse, but maintained that they had been friendly during the summer and that the sex was consensual.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Toothaker said he felt the verdict was a fair one given the testimony from the witnesses. While he said it was difficult to determine what a jury considers important, Toothaker said he thought inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony, particularly about the alleged assault itself, had hurt her case.

On the other hand, he said, Blackwood was consistent in his testimony.

“He never wavered,” Toothaker said. “He told the same thing over and over.”

Hancock County District Attorney Michael Povich declined to comment on the verdict.

“The jury rendered its verdict,” he said. “That is the process.”

The victim was visibly upset by the verdict and broke into tears as the jury foreman repeated “not guilty” to each of the charges.

Blackwood was the subject of a five-month search after he fled the area shortly after the incident. He left Bar Harbor after police notified him that they wanted to speak with him about the alleged assault. According to Toothaker, Blackwood testified that shortly after he had spoken with the local police, he learned that his brother had been killed by police officers in Jamaica and he was attempting to get home.

Blackwood was arrested in February after the FBI tracked him down in New Jersey through his cell phone records and usage. Blackwood waived extradition and has been held in the Hancock County Jail since then.

Blackwood remained in custody on an immigration hold stemming from violations of his visa. Toothaker said he expected the issue would be resolved quickly and that his client would be sent back to Jamaica.

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