January 17, 2013
Two Iraqi men facing charges in the sexual assault of a Colorado Springs woman who awoke hours after the attack in a pool of her own blood are headed for January trials with the same defense: The other guy did it.
Jasim Mohammed Hasin Ramadon, 20, and Sarmad Fadhi Mohammed, 26, are expected to accuse each other of raping the woman while she lay unconscious July 22 in Mohammed’s Colorado Springs apartment, according to arguments Thursday at a daylong motions hearing in Colorado Springs.
The men are scheduled to be tried separately in back-to-back trials beginning Jan. 29.
The victim, in her 50s, was allegedly carried or led to her apartment in the same west-side complex after the early morning assault. The Gazette generally withholds the names of sexual assault victims.
The woman told police she blacked out after drinking what she thought was lemonade and woke up more than eight hours later covered in blood and unable to walk. Her injuries — initially thought to have been caused by a blunt force object — were so severe she could have died without medical help, police say.
The case generated notice across the country partly because of Ramadon’s incredible personal story.
The son of an Iraqi Army officer who served under Saddam Hussein, Ramadon risked his life to help Fort Carson troops hunt down hostile elements — including his father — and a local soldier repaid his loyalty by arranging for Ramadon’s 2004 immigration to the United States. His story of coming to the country is detailed in the book “A Soldier’s Promise,” by Army 1st Sgt. Daniel Hendrex.
Colorado Springs police said Ramadon was the man responsible for inflicting the woman’s injuries, citing accounts from others who were allegedly present.
Mohammed, also facing sex-assault charges, is accused of exposing himself to the woman as she lay in a torpor on a couch.
Authorities say the woman met the group of friends when a fight broke out in their apartment complex parking lot the night of the assault.
Three other men stand accused of acting as accessories to the rape. Authorities say Mustafa Sataar Al Feraji, 22, and Yasir Jabbar Jasim, 21, watched the woman being assaulted and did not intervene. Ali Mohammed Hasan Al Juboori, 24, wasn’t in the apartment at the time but later helped clean up blood and lied to Colorado Springs police about it, prosecutors allege.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Theresa M. Cisneros ruled Thursday that all five will receive separate trials.
Because of scheduling difficulties, four of the defendants, including Ramadon and Mohammed, were scheduled to appear for trial on Jan. 29.
They will be tried one at a time in front of different juries, with each new jury convening once the previous panel breaks for deliberations, Cisneros ruled. Al Juboori is tentatively scheduled to face trial on Feb. 26.
The unconventional trial scheduling was necessary because all five defendants are entitled to a jury trial within six months of being arraigned, Cisneros ruled. Some of their attorneys have conflicts that make it impossible to find other trial settings within the so-called speedy-trial period.
During Thursday’s hearing, Cisneros tossed a motion by public defenders to have Ramadon’s trial moved out of El Paso County.
The judge ruled that pre-trial publicity was unlikely to jeopardize efforts to find a neutral jury.
Contact Lance Benzel: 636-0366 Twitter @lancebenzel
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