WARSAW — The fate of Oscar Steven McDowell, 33, Waukegan, Ill., went to the jury at 4:45 p.m. Notification was received by the court at 6:35 p.m. that a verdict was reached, in the middle of a tornado warning for the county.
The verdict — not guilty on all three counts – rape, sexual battery and criminal confinement was decided by the jury.
The courtroom was quiet when the verdicts were read, no emotions from the mother of the victim could be heard, the defendant made no reaction until after the judge closed the hearing. McDowell gave hugs to both his attorneys — Matt Beuhler and Scott Lennox and thanked both.
“It was the right verdict,” stated Lennox. Prosecutor Dan Hampton was not available for comment.
Judge Michael Reed thanked the jurors for their conscientious efforts and noted it was a pleasure for the court to work with them.
The case went to the jury at approximately 4:45 p.m. today following close to 40 minutes of jury instruction and closing arguments by the prosecution and defense.
Reed went over 26 of the 28 final instructions. These instructions included the reading of each charge, the points the state must prove beyond reasonable doubt. Reed also read the state’s definition of rape, sexual battery, criminal confinement, deadly force, serious bodily injury, bodily injury, sexual intercourse, other sexual contact, confined, intentional and knowingly.
“That’s it,” said Hampton at the start of his closing remarks. Most of Hampton’s initial remarks went through several of the instructions given by the judge, stating how the state proved those issues through testimony. “The elements were all in the evidence,” Hampton said.
Hampton stated the defense tried to create doubt in its opening statement. “That was not manifested in the trial. Doubt has to be reasonable,” he said.
The jury was told the victim has lived with what happened in the forefront of her mind for two years and said (in a Facebook post) “I know in my heart you did this.”
He called McDowell and the other two individuals Chicago thugs, who performed rap music and had their way with her. He stated they said, “To h… with Warsaw, let’s go back to Chicago. Not this time, he doesn’t leave Warsaw this time,” Hampton said.
Hampton refuted the defense’s testimony that McDowell had his arm around her to console her while she was crying. “Why was she crying?” he said. The victim’s testimony, according to Hampton was collaborated by testimony and that DNA found on the victim’s chest and skin was that of McDowell’s. “The DNA was so good,” said Hampton.
Hampton concluded, by asking the jury to think about the courage the victim had to step up, face him and point to the man who raped her.
Lennox stated he felt sorry for the victim, but also sorry it was a situation of her own making that she could not get herself out of. “She lied, used poor judgement,” he stated. He pointed out several instances where she lied to the court and to the jury. He pointed out the lie of denying having taken any other medication than that prescribed to her, yet the sexual assault nurse testified the victim told her other medications she had taken. “She wanted to party,” Lennox said.
He pointed out she was a convicted liar, asked where were the witnesses from the group of 15-20 individuals who allegedly watched and cheered the assault on. He also stated the nurse had testified the evidence found in the rape exam could also have been from normal sex, or rough sex.
Lennox referred to the victim initially identifying other individuals, being 100 percent positive, then later being positive it was his client. Several other inconsistencies in testimony were noted.
The state was given a final rebuttal, and refuted the accusations by the defense. Hampton reminded the jury they were to consider the evidence.