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Closing arguments come Tuesday in Carlson trial

Joseph Daniel Carlson

She says she was raped.

He says it was consensual sex.

After about three days of testimony, jurors heard closing arguments Tuesday morning in the trial of Joseph Daniel Carlson, a 19-year-old Zumbrota man accused of raping his ex-girlfriend.

Carlson faces one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

"There was a violent sexual assault that left (the girl) bleeding and stinging and injured," Assistant Goodhue County Attorney Erin Kuester said during her closing arguments.

She asked that the jury of five men and seven women find Carlson guilty of both charges; two alternates were dismissed just after closing arguments.

"Joseph Carlson and (the girl) had consensual sex last July 11 of 2012," defense attorney Doug Bayley countered. "Nothing you have heard... credibly says anything different."

He asked that the jury return not guilty verdicts for both charges.

According to a court complaint filed in Goodhue County District Court July 16, Carlson invited the girl to his mother's Pine Island home last July, held her down and raped her.

Opening statements in the trial came Thursday morning. Following that, jurors heard testimony from the girl's mother and her friend, as well as from Goodhue County Sheriff's investigators and medical professionals. The girl and Carlson also took the stand.

On Tuesday morning, both attorneys discussed at length text messages the girl, Carlson and other friends sent to each other in the days leading up to the alleged rape and after it.

"She texted with a friend shortly after she got home (after the incident)," Bayley said, going on to read one message the girl sent: "I fooled around with my ex Joe ... I tried to leave. He'd pull be back and kissed my neck. It made my knees weak. He practically raped me.

"It was consensual sex," Bayley continued. "How do I say it? I don't have to. (The girl) said it: 'I fooled around with my ex.'"

But Kuester pointed to text messages that Carlson sent to one of his friends after the incident, in which Carlson described sex with the girl.

"The text messages show there was no consent," Kuester said. "(Her) body didn't respond."

Both attorneys also talked about the injury the girl sustained to her genitals during the incident. Kuester said that doctors who testified during the trial stated that the injury was consistent with forced vaginal intercourse.

"This is not, as the defendant claims, a result of foreplay," Kuester said. "She left the house battered."

In her rebuttal, Kuester also questioned why the girl was never injured when she and Carlson had consensual sex earlier in their relationship.

"People don't get injured from consensual sex. The doctor's testimony is clear," Kuester said. "This incident is a forceful sexual assault and the injuries tell the story."

But Bayley reminded the jury Tuesday that the medical professionals also testified that it was possible that the girl's injury could have come from consensual sex.

Bayley also went on to say that the girl changed her story, claiming that she was raped only after she realized that she was injured and needed to see a doctor. He said she was afraid to tell her strict mother that she was sexually active and therefore said she was raped.

This is the second time Carlson's case has gone to a jury for deliberation. In January, a jury of two women and 10 men deliberated for about seven hours after that weeklong trial. They failed to come to a unanimous decision and a mistrial was declared.

It's not clear when the current jury might reach a verdict.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.