August 10, 2013
After only 45 minutes of deliberation a jury found Ronald W. Greer Jr. guilty of rape, sodomy, armed criminal action and resisting arrest on Friday.
Greer, 45, was convicted after two days of testimony regarding the June 14, 2012 incident, where he was accused of attacking and raping a woman on the Katy Trail.
Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Mittelhauser said he was “very pleased” with the outcome and noted the quick jury turnaround.
“It was quick certainly for the number of counts they had to consider,” he told the Democrat after the verdict was read. “I think that indicates the strength of the Sedalia Police Department’s case and the victim’s testimony.”
On Thursday the victim testified for an hour, telling jurors how Greer first approached her three days before the attack while she was walking on the trail. She told jurors she thought he “was creepy” and on June 14, when she was walking on the trial and again saw him thought, “oh crap.”
“He made me uncomfortable,” she said during testimony. “I turned around and he grabbed me with his arm around my neck and a knife to my throat. I was screaming, fighting. He told me to get up and do what he wanted and he forced me into the woods.”
On Friday jurors heard from several witnesses who assisted the victim in the immediate time following the attack, including employees at KSIS Radio station where she ran to after being raped and nurses at Bothwell Regional Health Center, as well as two criminalists from the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab, who testified they created a DNA profile from cheek and blood swabs provided by Greer.
During his testimony, criminalist Shawn Bails told jurors he took samples of stains from the victim’s underwear to analyze. After performing three tests to verify the stain was semen, Bales said he then compared DNA from the stain to Greer’s sample, which showed it was consistent. Mittelhauser asked if that could be quantified statistically.
“There is one in 1.35 quintillion chance, in the Caucasian population, of that specific sequence occurring again,” he said. “The population of the world is about seven billion.”
Much of Greer’s defense focused on varying statements made by the victim and other witnesses for the prosecution during their initial statements to police and the depositions 10 months later. Defense Attorney Jeremy Pilkington recalled several of the state’s witnesses to ask them to clarify remarks. He also asked the three KSIS employees who helped the victim if they saw visible signs of injury; only one testified she clearly saw the victim’s scratches.
During his closing remarks Pilkington told the jury they, “had a hard job today. Either you find that Ronald Greer is a rapist or that (the victim) is a liar.”
“It’s hard to call her a liar, you want to give her the benefit of the doubt and believe her,” he said. “But you have to fight that urge today. You need to view the evidence with a discerning eye. Do the circumstances match up? Does the behavior match? Was her story consistent or did it change?”
Pilkington told jurors the victim had “a very gripping story” but it didn’t make sense. He asked why she didn’t try to separate herself from Greer while on the trail, why she continued to use the trail after their first encounter made her feel uncomfortable and why she didn’t take a different route home that day.
“You heard testimony that (the victim) was slapped three times, she told us the slaps were so fierce she now has jaw pain and can’t even chew cottage cheese,” he said. “When you look at the photos (taken at the hospital) there’s nothing on her face to indicate that. There are no scrapes, no marks on her hands. If she tried to fight him off, shouldn’t she have defensive wounds that show that?
“She was lying about the slaps, lying about being pushed through the woods, lying about the sex.”
In his closing statement Mittelhauser addressed the victim’s wounds.
“Mr. Pilkington is saying ‘why didn’t you do more? Why didn’t you scream more? Why didn’t you make him cut you a little with his knife?’ ” he told the jury. “Mr. Pilkington says ‘if you had avoided my client maybe he wouldn’t have raped you that day. Why didn’t you avoid him?’ Believe me, (the victim) has asked herself that every day since the rape occurred.”
Mittelhauser finished his statement by saying Pilkington was asking the jury to shift blame from the rapist to the victim and by nitpicking witness testimony difference, asking the jury to focus less on the evidence at hand.
“The truth is Ronald Greer raped her and sodomized her,” Mittelhauser said. “That day, no one helped her (as she was being raped.) Today someone can.”
Greer will be sentenced by Division 4 Circuit Court Judge Robert Koffman on Oct. 9. Mittelhauser said because Greer was convicted in 1989 for attempted rape he is classified as a prior and persistent sexual offender and will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Greer and his attorney may appeal the jury’s verdict.