- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

A court-martial began yesterday against Midshipman 1st Class Lamar Owens Jr., the U.S. Naval Academy football team’s star quarterback accused of raping a 20-year-old midshipman earlier this year.

Attorneys spent most of the day at the Washington Navy Yard selecting a panel of jurors from a pool of naval and Marine officers. During the lengthy process, attorneys read to potential jurors statements made by the woman who is accusing Midshipman Owens of raping her in her dorm room in January.

The judge, Cmdr. John Maksym, dismissed several officers from jury duty.

Under court-martial rules, the potential jurors may be narrowed to a panel of five to hear the case and convictions can be obtained by an affirmative vote by two-thirds of the jury.

If convicted, the maximum punishment in Midshipman Owens’ case is a dishonorable discharge and life in prison.

Yesterday, civilian defense attorney Reid Weingarten repeated many of the statements made by the accuser when she testified at an Article 32 hearing in March. The hearing is similar to a civilian grand jury.

“A lot of evidence in this case is that the victim drank a lot and had blackouts,” Mr. Weingarten said. “She waited five days before she complained.”

In the Article 32 hearing, the victim testified that she and her friends had been drinking at a bar in Annapolis Jan. 29 before returning to the dorm and falling into a restless, drunken sleep on her bunk. She said she awoke about 4:15 a.m. to find Midshipman Owens, whom she barely knew, standing beside her.

“He tried to kiss me on the mouth,” she testified at the hearing. “I closed my mouth … because I wanted him to stop. I told him I had a boyfriend. Next thing I remember … he was having sex with me.”

Judge Maksym told jurors that they must disregard anything they had heard or read about the case outside the Washington Navy Yard courtroom and that “one reasonable doubt [for all jurors] shall require an innocent verdict.”

Throughout the nine-hour hearing yesterday, Midshipman Owens, in a white uniform, sat among four of his attorneys, looking solemn and rising at attention as court recessed and reopened.

Four of Midshipman Owens’ relatives and another attorney sat in the row behind the defense table.

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