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Appeals court affirms attempted rape conviction

June 8, 2012

A man who tried to sexually assault a female co-worker as she slept in her home where he was a guest lost his appeal of an attempted rape conviction Friday.

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a Marion Superior Court ruling, finding that evidence was sufficient to support the Class B felony conviction of Betwel Birari and that a prosecutor’s comments did not result in fundamental error.

Birari’s appeal in Betwel Birari v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1111-CR-1009, raised issues including the reliability of evidence, his intent and whether the victim, A.J., was aware of his actions.

The case stems from an incident in July 2011 in which A.J. allowed Birari to stay overnight in her apartment, along with her 2-year-old cousin, and awoke to find Birari on top of her and attempting to have sex.

“The record reveals that A.J. repeatedly told Birari that she merely wanted to remain friends. While A.J. was asleep in bed with her two-year-old cousin, Birari removed his clothes, removed A.J.’s sweatpants, and placed his erect penis near A.J.’s vagina,” according to the opinion. “After A.J. and her roommate were able to remove Birari from their apartment, Birari yelled, ‘Please, don’t call the police. Just kill me.’”

The appeals court rejected Birari’s claims on evidence, intent or the victim’s awareness. But the court ruled a prosecutor made improper statements to the jury intimating that Birari might have wanted the child to watch. However, the court said, “under the circumstances, we cannot say that the prosecutor’s comments resulted in fundamental error.”   

 

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