The Norman Transcript

February 6, 2014

Jury trial under way for man accused of first-degree rape

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Cleveland County District Court has been busy with several jury trials over the past week and will continue this week.

Several witnesses testified Wednesday during a rape trial in Associate District Judge Stephen Bonner’s courtroom. Melvin Louis Johnson III, 31, of Norman, was charged with one count of first-degree rape in June 2009.

During proceedings Wednesday, Norman Police Detective Steve Flint, who investigated the case, answered questions about his interviews with Johnson and evidence collected for the case.

The jury listened to an audio recording of the two times Flint came into contact with Johnson, questioning Johnson about the rape allegation. Johnson denied having sexual intercourse with the female both times.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Austin asked Flint if there was any conversation prior to his audio recording because Johnson already seemed to know what the detective was talking about when he told Johnson a girl made an allegation.

Flint said, no, there was no prior conversation identifying who the girl was.

Flint told Johnson during the interview that the girl was being examined for sexual assault. When asked by Flint, Johnson agreed to a consent search of his body, during which several pieces of evidence were collected.

Other evidence also was collected at Johnson’s residence at the time, after consent forms were signed by Johnson and his roommate. The evidence included pictures of the apartment and items of clothing Johnson told police he wore the night of the alleged crime.

When Flint checked back at the hospital and spoke with the nurse helping the female with the sexual assault kit, Flint said the nurse told him they found an unknown white substance, which he concluded was probably semen.

Other witnesses who testified Wednesday included William “Bill” May and Anthony Birchfield. May worked at Norman Police Department in the forensic lab during the investigation.

May testified that he conducted the body search of Johnson and sent the evidence collected to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations.

Birchfield, with OSBI, testified that he analyzed evidence from the sexual assault kit and found no semen. He also examined one piece of evidence collected from Johnson to see if it was suitable for DNA analysis.

Birchfield then took all evidence collected from Johnson and one set of swabs taken from the female and forwarded it for DNA analysis. Birchfield said he would have done the DNA testing himself, but he had not been trained to do that at the time.

As the day came to a close, Austin said the state had one more witness to question about forensics and DNA. The witness will take the stand at 9 a.m. today.

During a separate jury trial, a panel deliberated Tuesday and found a Noble man guilty of domestic abuse assault and battery.

The jury panel requested that Jason Todd Cossey, 41, be sentenced to seven years in prison. A formal sentencing has been set for March 27.

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