Darrell Todd Maurina
PORTALES — A Roosevelt County jury late Friday found John Jacobs innocent of raping a fellow Eastern New Mexico University student. The courtroom audience then erupted — some in tears and others in relief.
Judge Stephen Quinn ordered one supporter of the alleged victim restrained and removed from the courtroom after she began to scream. Another member of Stacey Patterson’s family accused Jacobs of being a “sick, sick man” as she exited the courtroom.
The jury took 50 minutes to reach its verdict, announced shortly before midnight Friday.
Jacobs faces four more rape charges in Curry County district court, the first of which is scheduled for trial Tuesday and Wednesday.
Police began investigating Jacobs last summer after an 18-year-old Clovis woman claimed Jacobs raped her at a party at his house. During investigations other victims claimed Jacobs raped them as well.
Several witnesses for Jacobs’ defense argued in the Portales trial that Patterson consented to sex.
Two ENMU students — Kathy Mitchell and Bruce Cartwright — testified they saw Jacobs and Patterson kissing in the back seat of a car. Patterson testified she had no recollection of the car ride home.
Both Mitchell and Cartwright said Patterson didn’t seem incoherent as she claimed. Why she was “incoherent” is still in question, but she testified that she didn’t believe Jacobs drugged her.
Jacobs said he was drinking the night he had sex with Patterson, but Patterson said she had only a few sips of a drink, not enough to intoxicate her.
“She was a willing participant,” Jacobs testified on Friday. “She was coherent.”
“She never said ‘no, no, no,’” Jacobs said.
Patterson volunteered to speak publicly the day following the verdict and said she wanted her name made public.
“I’d just like to state that John Jacobs gave me a life sentence I’ll never be able to overcome, but he was able to walk away free,” Patterson said on Saturday.
In his closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Matt Chandler cited medical testimony that Patterson received a three- to four-centimeter long laceration in her vagina during sex and said she didn’t stop Jacobs despite her injuries because she was no longer able to communicate.
“Unfortunately, nobody can tell you what happened; Stacey blacked out, and she doesn’t know to this day what happened,” Chandler told the jury. “He strips the sheets off his bed and goes to wash them. Why? Because all that blood is evidence of a crime.”
Defense attorney Gerald Baca’s closing arguments centered on the legal definition of “reasonable doubt.”
“Their case is ‘we don’t know,’ and the other phrase you heard more than once is ‘nobody knows,’” Baca said. “That is reasonable doubt.”
“Would you like to be convicted on the basis of this evidence?” Baca asked. “I think not.”
After the jury returned with its verdict, Chandler defended his decision to press charges.
“We wouldn’t have brought a case like this if we weren’t convinced the case happened,” Chandler said.
Baca pledged to continue an aggressive defense for his client.
“We’re happy with the jury verdict and we think it is what the evidence demanded,” Baca said. “If we have to go to trial next week, we are ready to go to trial and vigorously defend against these charges.”
Portales News-Tribune editor Mike Linn contributed to this story.