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Jury finds man guilty in 2011 Town 'N Country rape trial

TAMPA — The jury took less than an hour to convict Rashad Hales of crimes that could send him to prison for life.

Hales was an ADT service salesman in December 2011 when he broke into a 19-year-old woman's Town 'N Country trailer and raped her, all the while threatening to kill her.

Hales held a cord to her neck and, later, a knife to her side. Later, he confessed everything to a Hillsborough deputy.

He said he had been aggravated and took it out on the young woman. She did not deserve it, Hales told the deputy.

He called himself a "psychopath."

The six-member jury convicted Hales, 20, of three counts of sexual assaults, as well as armed burglary with assault or battery.

The victim was not nearby when the jury indicated it had a verdict. Minutes later, when she got the news in the courthouse hallway, she raised her hands in the air victoriously. Her fiance gave a thumbs up.

Earlier Wednesday, prosecutors played an hourlong videotape of Hales' confession to the deputy. It was hard to understand. Hales' voice is garbled.

But in her closing statement, Assistant State Attorney Rita Peters said enough of the video is understandable to prove that Hales was guilty of burglary and rape.

"You hear him say 'That young girl didn't deserve it. It wasn't her fault. But I took it out on her,' " Peters said.

"You hear him say he's leading her, pushing her toward the bedroom. You hear that she has fear on her face," she said.

Hales' confession matches the victim's testimony, given Tuesday, Peters argued. The details and timing corroborated each other, she said.

Peters also played a 911 call in which the victim can be heard crying.

"I'm scared," says the woman, who is not being named because of the nature of the crime. "I want to go back to my mom. I don't want to stay here."

In the defense's closing statement, Assistant Public Defender Kenneth Littman pointed out that none of Hales' DNA was found in samples collected from the victim.

He said the loose cord put around the victim's neck— and the knife that was held toward her body, but never touched her — do not constitute a threat of death or "great bodily harm."

He also said the video prosecutors played Wednesday was unintelligible "and should be disregarded."

After their arguments, when the jury was out of the room, Littman made a motion, asking the judge to throw out the attempted second-degree murder charge.

Littman said allegations that Hales loosely held a cord around the woman's neck, as well as a knife to her side, did not constitute an attempt to kill her.

Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe discarded that charge, leaving the jury to only consider the remaining four charges.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 19.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Jury finds man guilty in 2011 Town 'N Country rape trial 05/15/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 11:57pm]
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