NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A former Newport News Police officer was exonerated in courtTuesday afternoon when a jury found him not guilty of rape andsodomy charges.
In January of 2009, police arrested their then fellow officer,Christopher Miner and charged him with rape and sodomy. The chargesstemmed from an alleged incident in Miner's home in December of2008. A woman told police Miner forced himself on her.
The room erupted as the verdict was announced -- not guilty.Miner's friends and family cheered, among them, more than 10Newport News police officers and detectives. Miner hugged hisattorney Robert Lawrence and immediately began to cry.
There was one group of people missing when the verdict was read-- the alleged victim and her family were nowhere to be found.
The jury began deliberating at 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, after closingarguments. Christopher Miner, 38, stood outside of the Newport NewsCircuit Court Building smoking a cigarette.
An hour later, at about 12:40 p.m., the verdict came was read:not guilty on rape and sodomy charges. Outside the courtroom,WAVY.com asked Miner what he's going to do now.
""It's sad to say the first thing I'm going to do is go home,"he said, laughing.
He laughs because for the first time in a year, he doesn't haveto go home, having been on house arrest.
Lawrence will not let his client speak about the verdict becauseof an abduction charge pending in a separate case, but Miner'sfriends and family spoke for him.
"I'm so glad it's over. It's been a horrible, horrible year andhe's gone through an awful, awful lot," said Sue Detorres, Miner'smother.
"He knew he didn't do anything wrong and held to it the wholetime and you see what happened," said Trina McKeel, Miner's friend.
In court, a woman claimed Miner raped her in his homeimmediately after they finished having consensual sex in Decemberof 2008. She did not file charges until six weeks later.
Miner said that they had had consensual sex in the past and thathe never raped her. On Tuesday, the jury sided with the formerNewport News police officer.
"If you read the law, it's got to be beyond a ponderance of adoubt and it wasn't. We had doubts," said juror Don Thompson.
Miner's attorney said he has no doubt that his client deservesfull justice.
"We're negotiating with a lawfirm in [Washington] D.C. now aboutcivil suits and we're taking them one step at a time," Lawrencesaid.
Lawrence says he and Miner will be back in court at the end ofFebruary on a pending abduction charge.
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