DENVER (CBS4) – Jurors continue to deliberate the fate of a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman at Denver International Airport.
Former Marine Noel Bertrand, 27, has been charged with sexual assault and kidnapping. He’s accused of attacking the woman on a concourse at DIA. He met her after they both missed flights.
Bertrand faces life in prison if convicted.
The jury got the case late Thursday afternoon and then picked the deliberations back up on Friday morning. They jury is comprised of seven women and five men.
Bertrand said the two of them talked about their common interests while at DIA, including books. That’s when he said she gave him a provocative note.
Prosecutors are trying to convince the jury that the accuser was brutally attacked and raped in the airport, calling it a “layover turned nightmare.” But Bertrand’s attorneys argue the acts that took place at DIA that night were consensual.
Surveillance video shows Bertrand and the woman walking together in the concourse. It doesn’t show the alleged assault that is said to have occurred 30 minutes later at a deserted gate.
On the stand Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, Bertrand refuted what the alleged victim told the jury.
Bertrand said he deliberately withheld certain details, in part because when he was being interviewed by detectives he was in a state of shock. He also said he was essentially trying to protect the victim’s dignity in the case.
Bertrand said the two had a consensual, S&M-style sexual interaction after meeting each other in an airport bar. The two never had intercourse but he said the woman was a willing participant and was very forward with him about wanting to have sexual contact. Bertrand said she gave him a note while at the bar that indicated that. He also told detectives nothing about that note when he was initially interviewed 18 months ago.
He said that he didn’t talk about that because he didn’t want to reveal any intimate details about their interaction together. Because Bertrand did not mention the note in the first interview, police did not search for it and now there is no evidence of it ever existing.
DNA samples were obtained from both Bertrand and the woman after the alleged rape.
Earlier in the week, forensic experts testified that Bertrand’s DNA, in one case saliva, was found on the victim’s face, neck and mouth. That is consistent with the testimony the victim gave on Tuesday.
She said Bertrand kept kissing her face, mouth and neck while keeping a choke hold on her and that she couldn’t fight back.
She also told the court that Bertrand had violated her with his fingers.
Bertrand’s defense team pointed out to the court that some of the DNA evidence does not conclusively point to Bertrand.
CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser said cases such as this are hard to prove and it’s a case where the accuser gets scrutinized. Another point at issue is where the alleged assault took place.
“This man was determined and thought he was in private and thought he was alone and attacked this woman,” Steinhauser said. “The defense attorneys are going to say nobody who is committing and act of rape is going to do so in a public place like this.”
Bertrand’s attorney told CBS4’s Jennifer Brice that the former Marine had plenty of support coming from his former colleagues. He said those people helped to pay for Bertrand’s legal services, which included his former commander.