Source: The Coloradoan
Date: December 9, 2014
By James Pohl
A jury on Monday found a 26-year-old Fort Collins man not guilty of raping a woman in 2013 on an Old Town Square bench.
Prosecutors said that Andres Alers sexually assaulted a woman whom he met while drinking at Lucky Joe's in the early morning hours of June 20, 2013. The woman told police she left the bar to walk with the man to nearby Trimble Court. They kissed for a while, and then the man began to force himself on her, the woman told police previously.
The alleged victim said she escaped and met up with her friends, at which time bar staff said they had noticed a "drastic change" in the woman's appearance and demeanor, according to arrest documents. She and her friends left the bar and called police, and investigators ended up collecting DNA evidence from the woman and her clothes along with a belt found by a bench.
Those items were submitted for testing with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and, along with surveillance video and numerous witness testimonies became key pieces of evidence in the case. That evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Alers forcibly sexually assaulted the woman.
Alers earlier this year pleaded not guilty to the single count of class-three felony sex assault.
The four-day jury trial concluded on Friday, and the jury on Monday found him not guilty. Alers, who posted his $25,000 bond one year ago this week, walked out of the courthouse a free man Monday morning.
"I think the jury got it right," said Derek Samuelson, Alers' attorney. "What happened in this case was not rape."
He lauded the jury's consideration of the evidence and willingness not to take part in a knee-jerk reaction to alleged rape — a contentious issue across the country in the wake of a Rolling Stone story about a rape allegation at a University Virginia fraternity. The magazine wrote an apology after it admitted it failed to fully report the story.
"From a defense perspective, it's a terrifying prospect to represent someone whom you believe to be innocent who is facing life in prison," Samuelson said. "The moment you end up in jury trial, the outcome is always in doubt ...There's, of course, the huge sense of relief but he and his family have lived through a nightmare the past year."
The Larimer County District Attorney's Office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.