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Man accused in Skateworks rape acquitted of most serious charges

A Baltimore County man accused in a gang rape at a Woodlawn roller rink was acquitted Monday of the most serious charges against him. But Davon Perry faces two counts on which the judge declared a mistrial after members of the jury said they were "hopelessly deadlocked."

Perry, 26, who was living in Pikesville before he was arrested in August 2010, showed no emotion when the seven-woman, five-man jury announced the verdict after about eight hours of deliberation that began Friday in Baltimore County Circuit Court. He was found not guilty of two counts of second-degree rape in the alleged attack on a 12-year-old girl at Skateworks.

Still remaining from the original 29 counts are two charges of second-degree sexual offense, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Originally, the charges included first-degree rape and first-degree sexual offense, and Perry was facing the possibility of life in prison. But last week, prosecutors dropped and Judge Mickey J. Norman dismissed all but four counts.

Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Porter, who led the prosecution, said she could not comment on the case Monday because there were still charges pending against Perry, who remains at the Baltimore County Detention Center. She said there is no deadline for prosecutors to decide how to proceed on the remaining counts.

The jury got the case late Friday morning, deliberated until about 7 p.m. and then was sent home for the weekend. On Monday morning, members sent Norman a note saying they had unanimously agreed on a verdict on two counts but were "hopelessly deadlocked" on two others.

Perry's lawyer, Roland Brown, said Monday that the state failed to prove its case "beyond a reasonable doubt." He mentioned specifically the lack of DNA evidence against Perry and questions about the credibility of two key witnesses: the girl and a teenage boy who was one of three males originally charged in the case.

"She said she could have made a mistake in identification," Brown said, referring to the girl's testimony during the five-day trial. Regardless of how the state "cleaned it up, that's reasonable doubt."

The Baltimore City girl, who is now 13, said at one point on the witness stand that she might have been mistaken about the identification of a man shown in surveillance video who was near the room where the assault allegedly occurred. But it was not clear whether she was referring to Perry or to another man.

After Brown's questions, in response to a question from the prosecutor, she reaffirmed her identification of Perry as the third person who assaulted her that night. It was the second time during the course of the trial that the girl pointed to Perry as the third man who had sex with her in a dark storage room at the rink.

Tracey W. Hankins, a 16-year-old from the county who was originally charged as an adult in the case, testified last week that Perry was in the room with the girl that night. He also acknowledged that he gave different stories to police officers at different times.

"Tracey Hankins admitted he lied to the police twice," Brown said in an interview on Monday.

Hankins' case was moved to the juvenile justice system in 2010, and prosecutors could not comment on the outcome. He testified last week that he is now in 10th grade at a local high school.

A third defendant, Kadeem R. Santiful, 19, pleaded guilty last year to a second-degree sex offense and is scheduled to be sentenced this month.

DNA evidence from Hankins and Santiful, but not from Perry, was found in an examination of the girl's body and clothing. Prosecutors told the jury that could happen if Perry had had a vasectomy or had used a condom when he assaulted the girl.

Brown said those explanations were "far-fetched, outlandish, and they weren't proven."

At the time of the incident, Skateworks — located in an industrial park near Security Boulevard — had been open nearly two years and was often a source of police calls for rowdy crowds and fights. Police said there was drug use and dealing there, and two men were shot in the parking lot behind the building.

The county revoked the rink's operating license after the arrests in August 2010. The rink closed shortly after that, and the owners filed for bankruptcy liquidation. A new rink called Hot Skates, owned by a company based in Ohio, opened last summer at the location on Whitehead Road.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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