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Public defender: Client guilty, but not of rape

(ran East edition)

Public defender Dillon Vizcarra on Wednesday told a Pasco County jury his client is guilty.

But not of the crime he is charged with.

Not the crime that could get him a 60-year prison term.

Not of raping a 54-year-old woman he met in a downtown bar. True, he may have lost his temper and roughed her up after a session of "drunken, unromantic, consensual sex," but he didn't rape the woman, Vizcarra said.

Michael Kevin Cutwright, 45, a Dade City day laborer with a criminal record, is charged with two counts of sexual battery in the June 5, 2003, incident.

Prosecutor Manny Garcia told jurors Cutwright shared a taxi with the woman as they left the Quaker bar and went to her home. There, Garcia said, they had a beer, and then Cutwright attacked the woman, choking her and raping her, leaving her bruised and beaten.

Vizcarra gave a different account. He told jurors the two got drunk together, then had sex. Afterward, when Cutwright refused to go out and buy more beer, the woman threw a beer at him and he lost his temper, striking her repeatedly.

"Probably shouldn't have done that, got carried away," Vizcarra told jurors. "I'm not saying he's without fault."

Vizcarra said jurors should convict Cutwright of battery.

"He's guilty of that," he said.

The woman, now 55, testified on the witness stand. The St. Petersburg Times is withholding her name because of the nature of the charge.

On the stand for more than two hours, her account contradicted the testimony of the taxi driver, and Vizcarra pulled some admissions from her, including that Cutwright had been to her home maybe twice before to drink with her. She also agreed she had thrown a beer at him and that Cutwright had struck her because of that.

But she maintained she never agreed to sex and that Cutwright brutally attacked her for up to a half hour in her home.

"He grabbed me by the arm and he pulled me down to the floor of the kitchen," she said. Then, she said, he choked her.

"He was calling me a bunch of derogatory names," she said. "He was saying he was going to get me, no matter how hard I fought. . . . I was fighting him. He was just too strong for me."

The woman said she had one or two beers before meeting up with Cutwright at the bar, and maybe one or two afterward. She also said she wanted Cutwright to buy two 12-packs of beer when they stopped at a store on the way home, but said she intended to drink only one beer with Cutwright, and that only after he refused to leave.

Taxi driver Rodney Steinruck said when he picked the two up at the Quaker, the were visibly drunk and slurring words, and he said he saw them in the rearview mirror kissing and hugging in the back seat.

The trial is scheduled to continue today before Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper. Investigators plan to play a tape recorded interrogation Cutwright sat for before he was charged.

Records show Cutwright has a criminal record including convictions for aggravated assault on a police officer, dealing in stolen property, and leaving the scene of a crash and burglary.

Records show that in 2002 he was charged with sexual battery but acquitted at trial.

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