LIMA — After listening to two days of testimony that was overwhelmingly damaging to the defense, jurors took little time Tuesday in returning guilty verdicts against a Lima man charged with rape.
Jurors deliberated for less than an hour before finding Avery Ward guilty of rape and felonious assault, felonies of the first and second degree, respectively.
Ward, 22, was charged with raping a 9-year-old boy on the evening of Dec. 5 of last year in a Brower Road apartment. The felonious assault charge was lodged because Ward carried out the assault knowing he was infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.
A maximum penalty of life in prison awaits Ward when he is sentenced on Jan. 15. The Lima man showed no emotion when the verdicts were read in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Jurors on the trial’s opening day heard from the victim via videotape during a deposition conducted earlier this year. The boy said Ward, who had visited the home on several occasions, “picked me up and laid me down on the bed, face down. He held me down. He pulled down my pants and underwear to my ankles and he took his pants off.”
The boy said Ward then forcibly had anal intercourse with him “for two or three minutes” while his young sister watched from the closet.
Afterward, “he said if you tell anyone I will hurt you and your sister,” the youngster testified.
Evidence presented at the trial on Tuesday included a videotaped interview of Ward, conducted by Lima Police Department Detective Steve Stechschulte, during which the defendant admitted he had engaged in a sexual act with the young boy. After initially claiming he had “never touched” the victim, Ward later in that interview told Stechschulte that “something did happen” on the night in question. “And I really do feel bad about that,” he said.
Ward said the young boy “sometimes wanted to do sexual things” and on that night had initiated the act that took place. “He asked, ‘Can we do that?’ And then it happened.”
Ward confessed to the detective that he placed his penis in the boy’s anus briefly, then removed it and ejaculated.
Asked by Stechschulte if the young boy felt pain, Ward replied, “Yes. He said ‘stop’ and I did.”
Hallie Dreyer, a forensic scientist with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, testified Tuesday that DNA tests conducted by the state crime lab “could not exclude Avery Ward” as the person who was responsible for biological stains, seminal fluid, found in the boy’s underwear.
Judge Terri Kohlrieser ordered a pre-sentence investigation be completed prior to sentencing.