A Howard County jury found a Columbia man guilty Friday night of raping a 30-year-old Columbia woman in her home last July.
The jury deliberated for four hours before finding Kenneth W. Cole guilty of first-degree rape in the July 7 attack at a home on Placid Lake Court.
Cole, 29, of the 8500 block of Airy Brink Lane, also was convicted of burglary, assault, battery and carrying a dangerous weapon. Coleis to be sentenced April 27. First-degree rape carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
During the three-day trial before CircuitJudge Raymond J. Kane, the woman testified that she had returned home and was opening her front door at about 10:30 p.m. July 7 when Colesurprised her from behind.
Armed with a knife, he forced her inside the house, but she ran from him into the kitchen to phone for help. A struggle followed, and when Cole raised his knife above her, the woman deflected it with her hand and cut herself, she testified.
Cole then forced her upstairs into the master bedroom, where he raped her, the woman testified.
She said she did not tell her husband about the rape or report it to police until July 9 because she was scared. At the time of the rape, the woman's husband was out of town withtheir children.
She told police she had seen her assailant at theWilde Lake Village Center and provided officers with a description for a composite drawing. Police canvassed the Wilde Lake Village Center with the drawing, which citizens identified as depicting Kenneth Cole. The woman identified Cole in a police department photo array.
Cole, who took the stand in his own defense, denied knowing the womanor raping her. He said he spent the entire day of July 7 with friends and relatives at his sister's house in Wilde Lake.
Several defense witnesses, including Cole's sister and nephew, testified that Colewas listening to music with friends outside of his sister's house atthe time the rape occurred.
Cole's public defender, Carol Hanson,called attention to the woman's conflicting descriptions of her assailant.
The first officer to interview the woman testified that shesaid her assailant was "clean-shaven." Sgt. Carl Layman, who does composite drawings for the police department, said the woman described the rapist as 6 feet tall, 220 pounds with a light mustache.
Hanson criticized the police department's handling of the case, saying investigators should have performed hair and fiber analysis on evidence from the crime scene.
Detective Frank Lilly, lead investigator on the case, testified that it was impossible to do scientific tests on evidence because after the rape the victim immediately took a shower and washed her clothes and the bedclothes.