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Wednesday, May 30,2012

Judge rejects bond reduction for rape suspect

Guardsman accused of sexually assaulting OU student

By Jim Phillips
Photo Credits: File photo
Photo Caption: Rape defendant Levi Canterbury waits for the judge before his hearing Wednesday in Athens County Common Pleas Court.

A judge on Wednesday refused to reduce the bond amount on a Gallia County man who's charged with having raped a female Ohio University student late last year.

Athens County Common Pleas Judge L. Alan Goldsberry noted that the bond on 21-year-old Levi D. Canterbury, who's currently being held in lieu of bond in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail, had been previously set at $200,000 with 10 percent payment allowed.

Defense attorney William N. Eachus asked Goldsberry during a hearing Wednesday to drop the bond amount to $50,000. This would allow him to get bailed out by giving $5,000 to a bail bondsman.

Athens County assistant prosecutor Rob Driscoll said the state would "strenuously oppose" such a reduction. He argued that Canterbury, who was arrested in Texas at a U.S. Army base where he was deployed with the National Guard, poses a flight risk.

Driscoll added that the woman whom Canterbury allegedly raped, and whose mother attended Wednesday's court hearing, does not want him to see him get out of jail.

"We do have a victim," Driscoll told the judge. "That victim does not feel safe."

Goldsberry said that based on the fact that 10 percent payment has already been allowed, "I think this is a reasonable bond, and I'm not inclined to modify."

In October, Canterbury was arrested on charges of having picked up a drunken OU student who was wandering lost, given her a ride in his vehicle, then raped her. After he dropped the woman off following the rape, authorities say, Canterbury called police expressing concern about her well-being.

He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape.

Eachus has filed a motion asking Goldsberry to bar as trial evidence witness statements that apparently refer to Canterbury's past sex acts.

The defense and prosecution reported Wednesday that they had reached an agreement on this issue. The statements will be taped in the judge's chambers to get them on the record, so the judge can decide at trial which to allow the attorneys to talk about.

The defense has also demanded evidence in discover relating to the accuracy of DNA testing that was done on blood found in Canterbury's vehicle, and semen found on his alleged victim's underwear. Eachus has argued that this evidence too should be suppressed.

The defense attorney maintained Wednesday that he should be able to see repair records on equipment used by a state crime lab to do the testing, to see if the device is reliable.

"You can't give a test with a broken machine," the attorney insisted. "If there's anything wrong with that machine, it's exculpatory… I believe there will be repair records on this machine, and I believe there will be a history of malfunction on this machine."

He noted that he had just received that morning some documentation he had been requesting from the state, in the form of technical manuals on machinery and testing procedures used by the state crime lab.

Eachus asked for, and was granted, a continuance to examine the newly obtained material, though Goldsberry also indicated he intended on Wednesday to set a date for a trial.

The judge told the attorneys that he would like to take care of any disputes about the reliability of the DNA evidence before trial starts.

"I would rather resolve these things about whether a machine is functioning properly, or is not functioning properly, outside the presence of a jury," the judge said, adding that such technical issues can be "baffling" to some jurors.

He agreed that if there's evidence that the state's DNA-testing equipment wasn't working properly, that would be exculpatory for Canterbury.

However, he noted, even if the machine in question turns out to have undergone repairs, this doesn't necessarily mean it was unreliable when it was used to test evidence in Canterbury's case.


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