A mistrial was declared Thursday due to a hung jury following the trial of Larry G. Blair, 52, accused of rape by his 38-year-old niece.
The woman alleged Blair assaulted her on Feb. 11 of this year at his former residence in Lowell after a night out drinking.
Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer declared a mistrial after the 12-member jury deliberated more than six hours and failed to reach a verdict.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Larry Blair and his lawyer, Shawna Landaker, listen as the prosecution and defense attorneys make final remarks to the jury in Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer’s court Thursday. Blair was charged with the alleged rape of a relative in February of this year.
Court officials did not specify late Thursday whether another trial will be scheduled for Blair, who faced up to 11 years in prison if he had been convicted on the first-degree felony charge.
Larry Blair and his brother, Daniel "Jake" Blair, took the stand Thursday morning before the prosecution and defense wrapped up the two-day trial with final remarks to the jury.
The court received testimony from the alleged victim and other witnesses for the prosecution on Wednesday.
- A mistrial was declared Thursday by Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer in the trial of Larry G. Blair, 52, formerly of 565 Fleming Road, Lowell.
- The mistrial was declared after the 12-member jury failed to reach a verdict after six hours of deliberation.
- Larry Blair remains in the Washington County Jail on $100,000 bond.
Jake Blair testified first on Thursday and said he knew Larry had had sexual intercourse with their niece in the early morning hours of Feb. 11 at Jake's 565 Fleming Road home in Lowell, where Larry was also living at the time.
But Jake testified that he had heard no indications of a struggle that night, although he was awake in his upstairs bedroom when the alleged rape occurred.
"Were you kind of listening to what was going on downstairs in (Larry's) bedroom?" public defender Ray Smith asked.
"Yes," Jake answered, adding that the only noise in his own bedroom at the time was from a radio on which the volume had been turned down low.
During testimony Wednesday, Sgt. Scott Mankins with the Washington County Sheriff's Office said Jake's initial statement to investigators after the incident indicated he had the radio on and a breathing apparatus operating when the incident occurred.
Larry Blair testified that since late 2011 he and his niece had frequented area bars together and he regularly bought her drinks.
The night of the alleged rape Larry and the woman had been drinking with friends at the the Four Seasons and Locker Room Sports Bar in Marietta.
He said they left the bar around midnight and his niece was driving his SUV. They dropped their friends off at home, then headed along Muskingum River Road toward the home in Lowell.
But near Devol's Dam Larry Blair said his niece drove the 4-wheel-drive vehicle down a rough side road to a location just below the dam.
"We had a conversation there and talked about going to my house and having sex," he said. "I told her Jake was there, and she asked what I was going to do about Jake."
The couple traveled on to the house and after entering Larry told Jake he should go to bed.
Jake admitted to Assistant Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings that he knew what Larry was planning to do, and told his brother it was something he wouldn't do.
Larry said after Jake went upstairs he waited awhile, then went on to bed. He said his niece was already in the bedroom, sitting on the bed fully clothed, and smoking a cigarette.
He and the niece each undressed themselves and then had sex, Larry Blair testified.
Smith noted that during her testimony Wednesday the victim told the court that Larry had held her arms and ripped her clothes off.
"That's the first time I'd heard that," Larry said. "I did not do that."
"Did she say 'stop' or 'no'?" Smith asked.
Larry said she did not protest and then accused his niece of lying about that. He added that if there had been any scream or struggle Jake would have come downstairs and intervened.
Later on the morning of the alleged rape, Jake woke Larry and told him the victim was driving away in his SUV, but Larry said he was not concerned because he knew she would bring it back, then he rolled over and went back to sleep.
The victim and witnesses testified Wednesday that she had driven the vehicle to friends' homes where she pounded on doors, crying for help.
Rings noted that a nurse who examined the niece after the incident confirmed that she was visibly upset.
When police arrived around 11 a.m. on the day of the alleged rape, both Larry and Jake Blair told officers that nothing had happened.
"We already know Jake lied to officers to protect his family-and by that we mean his brother, Larry. So why should we believe him now?" Rings asked the jury during closing statements.
He said the defendant also lied more than once to investigators.
"But now he says he's telling the truth," Rings said of Larry Blair.
In part of his summary Rings said Larry Blair "drank too much, wanted to have sex, and did what he wanted with his niece. Then he lied to the investigators."
Smith reminded the jury that if they were not completely convinced that a rape occurred, they could not find Larry Blair guilty of the crime.
He said too much drinking by Larry and his niece led to their sexual encounter. Larry testified that both had drunk several rounds of beer prior to the incident.
Alcohol makes people do things they wouldn't normally do, Smith said in his closing remarks to the jury.
"That's what happened. If she wasn't drinking they wouldn't have had sex. If (Larry) hadn't been drinking they wouldn't have sex," Smith said. "But that's what happened. And Jake would have stopped it if she had said 'no.'"
Smith noted Larry Blair went to Myrtle Beach, S.C., a week after the alleged incident took place, where he stayed with his estranged wife until he was arrested by Myrtle Beach authorities and later transported back to this area by Washington County Sheriff's deputies in July.
Smith said Blair just wanted to get away after the alleged incident, was not hiding from authorities, and did not resist arrest after he was contacted at the South Carolina address.