San Diego

Ex-Navy Commander to Face New Trial for Attempted Rape

John M. Neuhart II is accused of trying to rape a Navy colleague in her San Diego home on Sept. 12, 2016

A former U.S. Navy commander will face a second trial on charges of attempted rape in the course of a burglary.

A deadlocked jury prompted a judge to declare a mistrial December 12 in the case against John Michael Neuhart.

Neuhart was accused of trying to rape a Navy lieutenant, who was once under Neuhart's command in a helicopter squadron.

At a post-trial hearing today, defense attorney Kerry Armstrong urged Judge Katheleen Lewis to dismiss the case. Armstrong said interviews with jurors revealed that two panel members favored acquittal, not just one, as was originally reported.

Armstrong also said one of the jurors who voted to convict should have been disqualified for failing to tell the attorneys she had been a victim of domestic violence.

But the prosecutor and judge both said a retrial is warranted. Judge Lewis said "evidence (in the case) is more indicative of (Neuhart's) guilt than innocence" and that a guilty verdict is "very possible" in a retrial.

The judge scheduled Neuhart's second trial for March 5, 2018.

A key piece of evidence  in the case against Neuhart is video from his cell phone. Neuhart himself captured the incident at the woman’s Valencia Park home on Sept. 12, 2016.

During the first trial, jurors saw and heard that recording of the alleged victim repeatedly and loudly telling the defendant "no," "stop" and "get off me."

During the trial, Neuhart, who testified in his own defense, said he shot the video because he wanted proof that any sexual activity was consensual. He said such a recording would provide him with evidence that he did not assault the alleged victim, and protect him from repercussions to his military career.

Neuhart has said he was trying to get the woman to agree to sex even though she was so drunk she fell off a bar stool, could not walk straight and was slurring her words.

Prosecutor Jennifer Tag reminded jurors that, "There’s no consent if someone’s drunk. There’s no consent if someone’s saying no."

Defense attorney Kerry Armstrong said the hotel surveillance video showed that woman and Neuhart were "…kissing, hugging and carrying on like a couple" in the hours before they went to the alleged victim’s home. In his closing argument, Armstrong said the alleged victim had many opportunities to get away from Neuhart at the bar, in the ride to her home and at her home.

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