A former Oregon State University student was found guilty late Wednesday night of raping a woman at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in July 2015.
Tyler Lazell Warren, who was enrolled at OSU from fall 2013 through spring 2015, was found guilty of first-degree rape, second-degree sexual abuse and first-degree burglary Wednesday night in connection with a July 12, 2015, incident at the Corvallis fraternity.
Benton County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Donohue announced the verdict at around 10 p.m. Wednesday after the jury deliberated for about five-and-a-half hours.
Warren was found guilty of first-degree rape by reason of the victim being mentally incapacitated and physically helpless. First-degree rape and first-degree burglary are Class A felonies, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Second-degree sexual abuse is a Class C felony, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Donohue said following the verdict that, given the hour, a sentencing hearing would be scheduled by email Thursday morning.
The 12 jurors began deliberating at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday after hearing closing arguments from Amie Matusko, assistant Benton County district attorney, and defense attorney Robert Corl.
“The verdict speaks for itself,” Matusko said.
There were tears from both the alleged victim and Warren’s family as Donohue announced the verdict.
“I think it’s unfair,” said Warren’s mother, Barbara, outside of the courthouse. “He’s a good kid. He’s never been in trouble before.”
Barbara Warren, of Los Angeles, Calif., also noted that her son is black and that the jury, which was made up of eight women and four men, had no black people on it.
“This was an all white jury,” she said. “It’s unfair.”
During closing arguments earlier in the day, both the defense and prosecution noted the main issue of the case was consent.
Warren was accused of raping a 21-year-old female student following her birthday party.
Warren and the alleged victim, a female sorority member who was renting a room at the fraternity over the summer, were both drinking at the fraternity a few hours before the incident occurred. Both the prosecution and the defense agreed that there was sexual intercourse between Warren and the alleged victim in her room at the fraternity.
According to the defense, the sex was consensual. Corl said during his closing arguments Warren was heading downstairs from his room on the third floor to get a drink of water when he saw the alleged victim laying half in the hallway and half in her room and that Warren helped get her to bed, at which point she began groping him.
“She initiated sexual contact,” Corl told the jury, arguing that the fact that both were intoxicated did not legally negate consent. “Really drunk people using bad judgment can consent to having sex with other people who are also drunk.”
Corl later suggested the alleged victim had possibly built up a false memory of the event that was triggering trauma because she did not remember consenting.
Corl also said the state did an insufficient job of presenting evidence in regard to consent. Corl also said not all pieces of evidence were submitted for DNA testing to get a more complete picture of the event.
“Why didn’t they do more testing?” Corl asked the jury. “They didn’t bother to follow up.”
Corl also reminded the jury that the burden of proof was on the state and that the state did not do enough to prove the matter of consent.
“It goes beyond highly probable,” Corl told the jury. “Here’s the question for you: Are you convinced to a moral certainty?”
The prosecution argued that the alleged victim was too intoxicated to give consent and Warren came into her room uninvited and began groping her before removing her shorts and raping her. Matusko said the alleged victim was too intoxicated and traumatized during the act to speak or move or feel most of what was happening, but she remembered Warren removing her shorts, moving her into position and putting her shorts back on afterward.
“If there is a sign (that someone isn’t consenting), it’s that you have to move their body,” Matusko said to the jury. “And who dresses somebody who can dress themselves?”
Matusko said the defense’s argument that the alleged victim initiated sexual contact was “victim blaming.”
“Blaming her that she didn’t remember,” Matusko told the jury, “that is the definition of cowardice.”
Matusko added that the alleged victim had so much to drink that she had passed out and was vomiting shortly before the incident took place.
“Does that make her a prime victim for rape? It can,” Matusko told the jury. “Does that mean she deserved to be raped? No.”
Earlier in the day, Warren testified that the alleged victim groped him after he put her into bed and that she was conscious during the entire act. After being asked if he believed the alleged victim was awake and responsive during sex, Warren said “yes, she was still looking at me.”
Warren later said there was never an indication that the alleged victim did not want to have sex, but he stopped because he was afraid she might not remember consenting or initiating.
Corl was not immediately available for comment after the verdict.