Fredericksburg man found innocent

by Nathaniel Cline | Westmoreland News
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A Fredericksburg homebuilder was found not guilty last Thursday of a rape that allegedly occurred in the parking lot of the Riverboat in Colonial Beach.

In less than 25 minutes, a Westmoreland County jury found the defendant, not guilty of raping alleged victim Lutrisha Mussleman.

On Oct. 22, 2009, Musselman’s evening of meeting with friends and family ended quickly after she was escorted out of the Riverboat Restaurant for exceeding the restaurant’s alcohol policy, she testified.

Several staff members testified that she continued to exhibit unusual behavior, after she was told not to be served any drinks and to leave.

The defendant volunteered to escort Mussleman to her car.

One bartender even testified that the defendant had paid her bar tabs and what a “generous person” he is when he visits.

However, Musselman alleged that while being escorted to her car, the defendant assaulted and raped her in the parking lot.

“I was struck from behind, pushed in front of my vehicle and held down.” Musselman said, adding that she was later thrown down in the gravel where she sustained bruises and scars.

According to witnesses, this was around the same time a commotion outside was heard inside the restaurant. Some of the witnesses who saw Musselman and the defendant outside testified that they did not see any signs of the defendant raping her, but did hear a cry of “no” and Musselman crying.

Mussleman and other witnesses said that the defendant walked off as one of their friends came to get her.

After the commotion, the defendant returned to the restaurant and sat down at the bar.

Jonathan David, the defendant’s attorney, questioned why she did not report the incident immediately, telling the jury that she has changed her story more than three times.

“I was injured. I was scared and undecided on how to handle the case.” Mussleman responded as she did not report the incident until 10 days later. She also had someone take pictures four days later of her injuries and bleached her clothes the day after the alleged incident.

In closing arguments, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Joshua Boyles explained that in a crime of rape, there are only three elements needed to prove guilt in a rape case.

“Sexual intercourse, without consent, by force. That’s it,” Boyles said. “Generally speaking, a rape case is one witness, it is the person who says says she was raped. That’s enough for a conviction.”

However, David disagreed with Boyles that the defendant should be convicted based on the evidence.

“Quite frankly, I think the defense here is, it never happened,” David said. “The only witness who said there was any intercourse whatsoever is Mrs. Musselman and I think you heard even from the Commonwealth as they conceded at this point, she was, quote, “loaded.”

David continued to point out faulty evidence in the commonwealth’s case, lastly the reason for waiting 10 days to report the incident.

“Why did she wait 10 days? I still don’t understand why, what her reasoning was as far as being a 911 operator,” David said. “It makes no sense whatsoever.”