PARIS – An Oxford County Superior Court jury deliberated for one hour Wednesday before finding Christian Averill innocent of raping a Lewiston woman two years ago.

However, the verdict from the three-day trial means that Averill’s problems are only half over.

The 22-year-old Sabattus man will be in Superior Court in Androscoggin County Friday to be sentenced for the April 2002 rape of a Bates College freshman. He was convicted of that crime in March, but sentencing was held off until the trial in Paris could be completed.

The current case was tried after the Bates conviction, even though the alleged rape occurred about one year prior. This is because the plaintiff, Karen Spearrin, could not be located, according to Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cashman. It wasn’t until the Bates assault that Spearrin contacted the state about proceeding with her case.

The venue of the trial was changed from Androscoggin County Superior Court to Oxford County Superior Court, where Justice Thomas Delahanty II has been assigned.

Averill is facing a sentence that will most likely be more than 12 years for the Bates rape. His attorney, George Hess, and Cashman forged a plea agreement calling for a 12-year sentence and 10 years of probation that was rejected by Delahanty last January as too lenient.

On Wednesday, Cashman and Hess presented their closing arguments, each recounting their client’s differing stories.

Cashman pointed out:

• That Averill denied being on the ground with Spearrin and yet dirt from the parking lot was found imbeded in several parts of her body at a rape examination by a Central Maine Medical Center nurse, indicating contact with the ground.

• That Averill claimed trying to have sex standing up in the parking lot. Cashman pointed out the absurdity of a 6-foot-2-inch tall male and a 5-foot-4-inch tall female trying to have sex standing up.

• That Averill changed his testimony about drinking prior to the episode, claimed to have parked in a manner inconsistent with police reports and incorrectly identified the color of Spearrin’s blouse.

Cashman said one of the largest fallacies of Averill’s testimony was the fact that he claimed Spearrin hopped into his truck and he had a conversation with her and then drove into the parking lot of Midas garage on Canal Street where the sex act occurred.

She said Averill said he picked her up down from the corner of Cedar and Canal streets, and that there was only about 150 yards to the Midas parking lot – hardly enough distance to carry on the conversation Averill testified he had.

Spearrin claimed that Averill walked past her, put her in a headlock from behind and dragged her across the street to the Midas garage.

Hess said in retrospect, that it could have been the purchase of a pack of cigarettes and a carton of chocolate milk before the alleged attack took place that helped lead to the innocent verdict.

In his closing remarks, Hess drove home the fact that after the alleged attack, Averill and Spearrin sat around in the back of the pickup and smoked cigarettes. A Maine State Police laboratory DNA specialist testified Tuesday that Averill and Spearrin had one cigarette each and then Spearrin was the dominant smoker of the other four.

He also pointed out to the jury that Spearrin had testified that the milk Averrill had purchased before driving on Canal Street was cold on the night of the alleged attack and she repeated that assertion three days later when a Lewiston Police Department detective questioned her again.

Hess reminded the jury that Spearrin and Averrill connected at 11 p.m. and that she said she was never in the pickup until after the couple had sex, which would be sometime around 12:30 a.m.

Averrill said he picked her up hitchhiking, which would put her in the truck when the beverage was actually cold.

Hess said the milk could not still be cold at the end of the events.

Hess said his client was “very pleased” with the result, since a guilty verdict might have added time to a large sentence already looming for him.

Cashman said the case presented a lot of facts for jurors and a lot of facts that had different twists to them. She said it is always difficult to prove a “he said, she said” case where there is no evidence other than testimony.

The trial was also marked by Delahanty calling each juror individually into his quarters Tuesday and then dismissing a juror.

Delahanty said Wednesday that he could not comment on the conversations until after the sentencing Friday.

Spearrin looked withdrawn and tired after the trial.

“I tried,” Spearrin said. “I did everything I needed to do; it was just not enough.”

She added that there was some consolation in that Averill was going to go to jail for the other crime, but not enough.


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