A jury was set to enter its second day of deliberation Tuesday after it failed to reach a decision Monday evening in the case of Matthew Greene, 36, Greenfield, who is charged with two counts of first-degree felony rape.
Judge Rocky Coss sent the board home at 8:30 p.m. Monday following three and a half hours of deliberation, and the jury was set to resume its duties at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
In often emotionally charged testimony Monday morning and afternoon, witnesses for prosecution and defense — including the victim and the defendant — presented accounts of their involvement in the case.
Witnesses for the prosecution alleged that Greene raped his stepdaughter on different occasions when she was between the ages of 14 and 18. In an audio recording of a law enforcement interview with Greene, the jury heard Greene admit that he had sex with the victim but deny that he forced himself on her, saying that the acts were consensual.
The defense kept with Greene’s argument and added that there was no physical evidence of a crime and no eyewitnesses. Greene and his lawyer also said the sheriff’s detective who investigated Greene coerced him into a confession.
In opening statements, Highland County Prosecuting Attorney Anneka Collins said Greene was mentally, emotionally and physically abusive toward his family because he had an explosive temper, and that as he was raping the victim on one occasion, he raised his voice in the same way he would when he would become physically violent, causing the victim to fear injury.
Joshua Bedtelyon, a Columbus attorney who represented Greene, argued that his client was “wrongfully charged with crimes he did not commit,” and described him as “a man who cares deeply about his family.”
Greene was also represented by Columbus attorney Roger Soroka, who did not speak Monday.
Bedtelyon said Greene was coerced into confession by “false pretenses, threats and lies.”
The victim, now 18 years old, testified that Greene had been a father figure to her since she was 3 years old. She said the defendant was often abusive, using fists, hands, switches and belts to punish her and her siblings. The victim, at times in tears, described the sexual encounters in detail.
The Times-Gazette typically does not identify victims of sexual assault.
The victim testified that she left home after she turned 18, and it was then that she reported the incidents to law enforcement.
In cross examination, Bedtelyon questioned why the victim didn’t report the incidents sooner, and the victim said she was afraid of retaliation. When Collins redirected, the victim said Greene told her that her mother would side with him and turn against the victim if the incidents came to light.
The victim’s mother, Christy Henderson, testified for the defense, siding with Greene on all arguments even after admitting that Greene was physically abusive toward her and her family.
At one point, Henderson said if there had been sexual misconduct, “(Greene) would have been in jail a long time ago,” although Collins in cross examination pushed Henderson to testify that she married Greene just 11 days after he admitted to having sex with Henderson’s daughter — a confession which Henderson herself witnessed.
Henderson also disputed the victim’s age when she visited a local tanning parlor — a key element in the state’s rape allegations. The victim testified that she began visiting the tanning parlor when she was 13 and Greene raped her soon after, but Henderson said the victim didn’t visit the tanning parlor until she was 15 and in high school.
Detective Vincent Antinore of the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, who conducted Greene’s interview, testified for the state.
Antinore, who investigates sex crimes for the sheriff’s office, said no two victims report sexual assault in the same way, and that they often do not alert authorities until well after the incident or “until they feel safe.” Even then, he added, authorities don’t always get “all the facts.”
The detective walked the jury through various questioning techniques he used in interviewing Greene, which the defense used as a coercion argument.
The jury heard a recording of the interview, in which Greene was heard first denying sexual contact with the victim, then admitting that he had sex with her, but saying that it was consensual.
“Me and her had sex,” Greene was heard saying. “Every time it happened, she was willing to do it.”
Later, when Greene took the stand, he denied using force on the victim. Bedtelyon doubled down on the force argument in his closing statement, adding that there were no eyewitnesses and no physical evidence to corroborate the victim’s testimony. The lawyer said the prosecution used domestic violence as a “distraction,” and that Greene “always denied force.”
Greene also testified that he felt pressured to tell Antinore that he had sex with the victim.
“He had me put in a corner,” Greene said. “I was telling him what he wanted to hear… I just was wanting out of that situation.”
Greene added that there was more to the conversation that was not recorded, although Collins called Antinore back to the stand and he testified that Greene’s statement was untrue.
In Collins’ final argument, the prosecutor said there being no physical evidence did not mean the acts did not occur, and that it “flies in the face of common sense” for the victim to lie about Greene raping her since it meant she would be cut off from her family.
The prosecutor also said Greene had every reason to lie, quipping, “The truth doesn’t change. Lies do.”
Collins also said the defense attorney could not speak to what a rape victim should or shouldn’t do.
The jury had the case by 5 p.m. and asked a number of legal questions throughout deliberation.
For further coverage of the trial, check back Tuesday at timesgazette.com or pick up Wednesday’s paper.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570.