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Two Culbreath Isles verdicts are reached

Two of four juries reached verdicts Thursday in the trial of four men charged with breaking into a Culbreath Isles home and raping a woman who lived there.

Those verdicts, however, won't be revealed before late this morning, at the earliest.

Another jury hearing the case will continue deliberating today, and the fourth is scheduled to hear closing arguments this morning. There are separate six-member juries for each defendant.

After reviewing and sealing the first two verdicts, Circuit Judge Bob Mitcham said he expects to release those, and a third verdict if it is in, when the last jury begins deliberations. He said that could be about 11:30 a.m. today.

Mitcham said he wants to make sure none of the jurors are influenced by another panel's decision.

Each of the four defendants is charged with nine crimes: two counts of sexual battery, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of theft, and single counts of burglary, robbery, and conspiracy. Each of the men _ Dennis W. Gonzalez, Michael Long, Rudy Barrientos and Kevin Thomas _ faces a life sentence.

In Thursday's closing arguments, attorneys for Gonzalez and Long acknowledged that their clients had helped rob the house. But they all declared that the prosecution hadn't proved that their clients had participated in the sexual attacks.

That was the same defense Thomas' lawyer used in his closing argument Wednesday. Barrientos' lawyer is scheduled to give his final argument this morning.

_ PAUL HANSON

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