An El Paso County jury on Wednesday failed to reach unanimous verdicts in the case of a man charged in a horrific 2010 rape in which a woman was pistol-whipped, burned with a cigarette and subjected to mock executions.
Ryan Michael Cantor, 29, was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and several related charges but a jury was unable to reach an accord on the two highest counts against him: rape and kidnapping.
The verdict came after a two-week trial and just less than one full day of deliberations described as "passionate" and "heated" by the jurors.
The victim, a 26-year-old woman, left court in tears after the verdicts were read. Her Aug. 19, 2010 rape and beating was captured in a graphic audio recording played for the jury during the two-week trial, and she spent three days on the stand detailing her violent treatment by Cantor, then a boyfriend. The Gazette typically does not identify the victims of sexual assault.
Prosecutors pointed out that Cantor faces "tens of years" for convictions handed up against him on Wednesday and pledged to re-try him on the unresolved counts. Fourth Judicial District Judge Larry E. Schwartz scheduled a May 6 re-trial.
On their way out of the courthouse, several jurors blamed a lone holdout for cutting off debate on the unresolved counts.
"Her statement to us – and I don't want to attack her or vilify her – was that she had made up her mind and there wasn't anything we could do to change it," said Michele Ford of Colorado Springs.
Another juror agreed: "I think she had her mind made up ahead of things," said Mel Powell of Monument.
The woman, who could not be reached for comment, told panelists she didn't believe that prosecutors had established the woman had been sexually assaulted or kidnapped according to the legal definitions of those terms.
She also changed her verdicts on two lesser counts after they had been read in court, telling Judge Schwartz she was "pressured" to find Cantor guilty. Judge Schwartz set both convictions aside and they will be added to the unresolved counts heard at the second trial.
According to the allegations, the woman was held at gunpoint in the passenger seat of Cantor's car for more than two hours. She was repeatedly beaten with a gun and twice burned with a cigarette before she was made to perform oral sex, according to a copy of the audio. Prosecutors alleged Cantor used the woman's cellular phone to make an audio recording as a way of humiliating her.
"I spent 30 years in the Navy, and I've seen all sorts of stuff," said juror John Priester of Colorado Springs. "But that tape just ripped me up."
Cantor, a four-time felon, had walked away from a half-way house and was considered a fugitive when the attack occurred.
His sentencing won't be held until after the second trial. Under one possible scenario, he faces up to 64 years on each first-degree assault conviction.