HAGERSTOWN — A former Hagerstown man facing a possible life sentence on rape charges was convicted instead this week of malicious destruction of property, although the judge told the defendant he disagreed with the outcome of the trial.
A Washington County Circuit Court jury deliberated most of Tuesday afternoon before finding Mark Anthony Taulton not guilty of first- and second-degree rape, first- and second-degree sex offenses and second-degree assault.
Taulton was found guilty of breaking a window and causing other damage at a woman’s home the evening after he allegedly raped her. Judge Daniel P. Dwyer sentenced Taulton to three years in prison with 18 months suspended.
Dwyer told Taulton he disagreed with the jury’s verdicts on the rape and assault charges and said the outcome could have been different if it had been a bench trial, according to both the defense and prosecuting attorneys.
Taulton, 29, had been charged with sexually assaulting the woman on the morning of Nov. 22, 2010, in her Hagerstown home. The woman testified she met Taulton while he was in state prison, and that he moved in with her after his release.
In 2010, Taulton returned to prison for a parole violation, and the woman testified she ended the relationship. She testified that, after his release, he showed up at her house at about 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 22, and she let him in.
The woman testified he picked up a knife in the kitchen and threatened to cut her up and “give the pieces to my dad.” He poked at her head with the knife and demanded sex, she testified.
“I told him if he put the knife away I’d do what he wanted,” the woman testified.
Taulton had filed a private criminal complaint against the woman, accusing her of second-degree assault in the same incident. During her questioning of the woman, Assistant State’s Attorney Gina Cirincion read from Taulton’s complaint.
In it, Cirincion noted, Taulton wrote that he asked the woman for sex, and “she said, ‘Yes, but put that knife away.’”
The woman also sustained bruises and a broken tailbone, which she testified happened in an assault before the rape.
Nurse Victoria Wright, who examined the woman that day, testified she saw and photographed physical injuries to the woman and took samples for a rape kit. On cross examination by Assistant Public Defender Jerome Joyce, Wright testified she did not see any vaginal injuries or presence of semen to indicate intercourse, either forcible or consensual.
On redirect by Cirincion, Wright testified vaginal injuries are present in relatively few incidents of rape.
Before the trial began on Monday, Cirincion introduced a motion not to admit evidence regarding the woman’s sexual history, citing the state’s rape shield law. Joyce said there is an exception in the law allowing evidence that could prove there was an ulterior motive for the victim to lie.
The woman was seeing Taulton’s brother while Taulton was serving time for his parole violation, Joyce said, giving her a possible motive to want her former boyfriend out of the way.
Dwyer did not allow the defense to introduce evidence of the brother’s relationship with the woman.