Jury deliberates today in county rape trial

A Lycoming County jury heard the rape trial of a 30-year-old Loyalsock Township man on Wednesday. Deliberations begin today.

Sherman Keller was arrested on Feb. 7, 2012, for allegedly raping a 19-year-old woman at his home on Feb. 4, 2012.

Keller and the woman talked online on Facebook and other websites for several months before they met for the first time when he picked her up at her Sunbury-area home the evening of Feb. 4. The two returned to Keller’s home, and he drove her back home in the early morning hours.

Both parties agree on that much – from there the stories diverge.

The woman testified that she fell asleep on Keller’s couch while watching a movie and awoke to find him removing her clothing.

She said that she yelled “no” five times, then Keller held her down, raped her and inserted his fingers into her vagina while his mother was on the computer in another room about 20 feet away.

Keller testified that five minutes after the two arrived at his home, they went upstairs to his bedroom and had consensual sex in several positions. After his mother returned home from work around midnight, they again went upstairs and had sex before he took her home around 4 a.m.

“We were texting before we met that night,” Keller said. “We said she was gonna come over and we were gonna mess around.”

On cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Kalaus asked Keller if there was an explicit agreement to have sex between the two.

“She asked what did I want to do with her and I said ‘everything,’ ” Keller said. ” ‘Everything’ pretty much implies sex.”

Dr. Perry Doan, who performed the sexual assault analysis on the woman at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville on Feb. 5 , testified he found no visible signs of trauma on the woman. Doan said that visible injuries occur in less than 25 percent of sexual assault cases and he has seen such injuries “only once” in his career.

“The tissue involved there is designed to undergo trauma, it’s designed to deliver a child,” Doan said. “It’s not unusual that area could undergo trauma and not show it.”

Keller’s mother testified that she came home and found her son and the woman on the couch.

“They were watching some kind of action movie and I don’t like that stuff,” she said. “They had the TV blasting.”

Keller’s mother said she never heard anything from the two people when they were on the couch and corroborated her son’s story that the two were in his bedroom before leaving the house.

Defense attorney Michael Rudinski argued the state had not met the burden of proof in his closing argument.

“They talked sexually for months – he always brought up sex,” Rudinski said. “She gave a story to her mom and the ball got rolling and she couldn’t stop it.”

Kalaus asked the jury to focus on the alleged crime, rather than surrounding circumstances.

“Once a woman says ‘no,’ everything before and everything after is irrelevant,” Kalaus said. “It’s inconceivable to think that after five minutes of being in his house she would go up and have sex with him four different ways.”

Keller is being tried on charges of rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and aggressive indecent assault.

The jury will get its instructions from Judge Dudley Anderson this morning and then go into deliberation.