Update 6:20 p.m.: The Clark County jury deliberating the fate of a Springfield man has been sent home for the day after about four hours in the jury room.
Clark County Common Pleas Judge Douglas Rastatter sent the jury home at around 5:45 p.m. They are expected to be back in the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
Original: Six counts against a Springfield man accused of raping two children were dismissed and now a jury is deliberating whether the man is guilty of 55 other counts.
The case against Oliver Sanders III, 26, wrapped up Wednesday afternoon in Clark County Common Pleas Judge Douglas Rastatter’s courtroom with prosecutors alleging Sanders is guilty of raping two girls under the age of 13 and possessing child pornography on his phone.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Hunter told the jury that prosecutors “fumbled the football” and failed to prove his client’s guilt.
The day began with the state resting its case against Sanders. Throughout Monday and Tuesday, prosecutors submitted evidence they say proves Sanders sexually assaulted the girls and knew about the child pornography on his phone.
Sanders is accused of raping the girls over the last five years. In one incident, prosecutors say Sanders showed a girl child pornography on his phone and told the girl what was depicted on the phone was “normal.” Springfield police investigators said Sanders voluntarily handed his phone over for inspection by law enforcement and they found numerous videos and images of child porn.
He was originally charged with 61 felony counts including nine counts of rape, 38 counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, seven counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, six counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor and one count of gross sexual imposition.
However, the day began with both attorneys agreeing to dismiss four rape charges and two counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
Sanders took the stand Wednesday morning and denied any wrongdoing. He said he never sexually assaulted the girls. Instead, he said he was away for U.S. Army basic training for much of the time period he is alleged to have committed the crimes and said that the allegations stem from money owed to his family by the family of the girls.
He also told the jury that he brought the phone secondhand off Amazon and that the pictures and videos law enforcement found must have been already downloaded before he purchased it.
Hunter told the jury during closing arguments that while the allegations against his client are disgusting, the only thing worse than committing those crimes is sending someone to jail for them who is actually innocent.
Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Aaron Heskett countered the arguments during his closing argument and said that there isn’t a “grand conspiracy” against Sanders. He told the jury that it was clear to him that Sanders was the one who downloaded the images and assaulted the girls.
The jury received jury instructions and began their deliberation at around 12:30 p.m. The Springfield News-Sun will update this story once a verdict is decided.
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