A trial for the first of three men charged with an alleged February 2017 sexual assault in Oxford began Tuesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.
Roger Richard Michael Simpson, 24, of Cincinnati, is charged with 23 felony crimes, including 10 counts of rape, sexual battery, complicity to rape and kidnapping.
Before jury selection began, Judge Michael Oster indicated a plea bargain had been offered by the prosecution and rejected by Simpson. The plea was to one count of rape and one count of complicity to rape, both first degree felonies.
Oster questioned Simpson about his understanding of the offer. He indicated that he did understand.
Simpson added he thought his attorneys should have visited him more during the past year preparing for trial.
“We are prepared, but we could be more prepared,” he said. “I am fighting for my life.”
After a jury was selected, Simpson again raised questions about not being able to see all evidence that had been turned over to his defense attorneys, Donald Leroy and Gerald Wirsch.
“I feel like I need all of it, every single piece to look over,” Simpson said.
Leroy pointed out the volumes of evidence, including photos, phone messages and social media records, some of which the defense team does not believe is relevant to the defense of the case. Some sensitive material, such as medical records and grand jury transcripts, is marked counsel only, which means it cannot be viewed by Simpson.
Oster took a recess before ruling that all the evidence had been presented to the defense and to some extent the use of certain evidence by the defense or prosecution is a matter of strategy.
The judge said he would give defense attorneys additional time to review with Simpson the photos that the prosecution plans to use before evidence is presented.
Co-defendants are scheduled to face a jury later this month.
Elijah Lee Mincy, 22, of North Campus Avenue, Oxford, is charged with 23 felony crimes, including three counts of rape, complicity to rape, sexual battery and kidnapping. His trial is scheduled to begin April 17.
Rodney Adrian Louis Gibson II, 22, of Cincinnati is charged with 26 crimes, including two counts of rape, sexual battery, kidnapping and complicity to rape. His trial is scheduled to begin April 24.
All three men remain housed in the Butler County Jail on high bonds set by Oster when the indictments were unsealed in July.
The allegations involve a single victim, a 19-year-old woman who was visiting Oxford on Feb. 11 and 12, 2017. The assault occurred in an off-campus apartment complex on Southpointe Parkway, according to Oxford police.
“This is a very brutal rape case,” Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said last summer when the indictment was announced. “One of the worst this office has seen.”
Police were called to McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital during the early morning hours of Feb. 12, 2017, to investigate a reported sexual assault, according to Oxford Police Chief John Jones.
The victim was intoxicated at a party at a residence at the apartment complex and became separated from her friends, according to police.
The men are accused of luring the woman to another residence and sexually assaulting her, according to Oxford Police Chief John Jones said.
During opening statements, Assistant Prosecutor David Kash told the jury the 19-year-old victim came the Oxford with a friend to visit other friends on Feb. 11, 2017 where they drank heavily at a bar before g0ing to a parti at the off campus apartment complex.
The victim had become friendly and with Rodney Gibson and went to another apartment with him, Kash said.
The woman was “trashed” after drinking all day, Kash said. When she sat down on the couch, Simpson began to fondle her and Gibson offeredup a back room where she could lie down, Kash said.
It was in that room that the girl was sexually assaulted by all three men for about 90 minutes, according to Kash. Several hours later the girl told her friend she had been raped and went to the hospital. DNA will prove Simpson was one of the men who attacked the woman, Kash said.
But the defense said in opening statements that no rape took place.
Leroy said the men had some degree of sex with the woman, but the evidence will show she was not intoxicated at the time.
At the end of the day the evidence will show the victim was not drunk, there were no signs of a struggle. “That this was not a rape at all,” Leroy said.