By Anna Bolton
XENIA — After deliberating for more than eight hours over two days in a child rape trial, a jury returned two guilty verdicts Aug. 15, remaining “hopelessly deadlocked” on the other 13 charges.
That’s how Judge Michael Buckwalter described the outcome of the trial for Justin Reeves, to which the jurors agreed was correct.
“I haven’t ever seen a jury take the responsibility more seriously and work so hard, not just through the trial … but to then work so hard in deliberating in this case,” Buckwalter said to the jurors. “So I give you a heartfelt thank you. You’ve certainly done your civic duty.”
Reeves, 33, of Fairborn, faces an indefinite sentence of 10 years to life for the rape of a child younger than 13, a first-degree felony. Assistant Prosecutor Bill Morrison said the two counts will likely merge.
The guilty verdicts come from the first indictment, which refers to the victim’s initial disclosure, detailing an incident she alleged happened in a Fairborn home in 2017.
Jurors left all blank spaces on the next 13 verdict forms — referring to the second indictment — indicating they could not reach an agreement. Those charges relate to additional sexual incidents, revealed later, that were alleged to have happened during a four-month span in 2018.
Outside the courtroom, Morrison and Defense Attorney Adam Arnold prepared to talk to the jurors.
According to Morrison, the court will likely declare a mistrial for the second indictment. Then it’s up to the prosecution to determine whether or not to re-try Reeves on those charges.
“I am very impressed with the jury and the length of time that they deliberated. I’ve never seen a jury work that hard,” Morrison said. “And so the state is obviously very pleased with the outcome with respect to the counts he was found guilty of, and the state is also very thankful for the jury’s work.”
During the trial in Common Pleas Court, both the victim and the defendant took the stand.
Attorneys told the jury that it all came down to credibility.
“There’s no eye witnesses in this case. There’s no medical professionals in this case. There’s no physical evidence in this case. And the window of time is tremendous in the indictments,” Arnold said in closing arguments. “I understand this is a sensitive issue. I understand this is a little girl in this case that we’re questioning … But the question is — do you believe beyond a reasonable doubt that what she said was true? Do you believe beyond a reasonable doubt with the way the indictments are charged in this case, with the timeline in this case, with how they conducted the investigation without even questioning if there was any alternative? Think about yourself in that position. Think about yourself at that table.”
Reeves is in custody until sentencing.