Bonner County jury deadlocks in rape case

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SANDPOINT — A Bonner County jury deadlocked Wednesday on a verdict in the case of a Montana man charged with rape.

First District Judge Barbara Buchanan declared a mistrial in James Stephen Anderson’s case, setting the stage for a retrial in September.

A jury composed of six men and six women deliberated for about six and a half hours before advising the court that they were hopelessly deadlocked. Deliberations began on Tuesday afternoon and continued on Wednesday.

Anderson, is accused of raping an intoxicated 17-year-old girl at a motel west of Priest River in August 2011.

Jurors were given the choice of convicting or acquitting Anderson of statutory rape or taking advantage of the teen’s impaired state to commit the rape.

The alleged victim, now 19, testified that she was walking from Priest River to Oldtown when Anderson beckoned her from outside the River Country Motel & RV park. The teen said she went to the motel because she recognized Anderson was with one of her relatives.

The teen told jurors Anderson gave her beer and liquor, which ultimately made her ill. After using the shower in his room, the teen testified that she laid down on a futon in the room, but Anderson picked her up and put her in his bed.

“I didn’t have the power to push him off. He had my arms pinned and I tried to wiggle my way out,” the teen testified, adding that she kept telling him “no.”

Anderson, a 53-year-old logger from Bigfork, invoked his right to remain silent and did not testify during the three-day trial.

In a video-recorded interview by a sheriff’s deputy, Anderson denied that the teen was ever in his room or that he gave her alcohol.

“This is insanity. We’re not that kind of people,” Anderson told Deputy Tim Hemphill during the interview.

During his closing remarks to jurors, Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall emphasized that the case was hardly a matter of he said/she said due to the presence of her and Anderson’s DNA on a fitted bed sheet collected from the defendant’s room.

“It corroborates her story,” Marshall said.

Deputy Public Defender Dan Taylor argued that the teen’s recollections of the incident were suspiciously vague for a traumatic event and downplayed the significance of the DNA evidence.

“It’s not the smoking gun,” said Taylor.

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