An El Paso County jury on Wednesday began deliberating whether an Iraq native who once served as a field translator for the Marines is guilty of being an accessory to a brutal rape in Colorado Springs.
Yasir Jabbar Jasim, 21, is accused of cleaning up blood and lying to police about it after watching two friends rape an unconscious woman.
The assault – described as “horrific” and “rare” by Colorado Springs police - occurred July 22 in Jasim’s west-side apartment and involves charges against five Iraqi men, all of whom reportedly immigrated to the United States with the military’s help after assisting troops in the war in Iraq.
Prosecutors say the defendant – who goes by “Mike” - watched as one man forced a woman in her 50s to perform oral sex as she lay on a couch and another used his fist to repeatedly violate her, causing internal injuries so severe she would have died without medical intervention.
After the assault, one of the men led her to her apartment.
During Jasim’s trial, crime scene technicians described the mix of pooled blood and fecal matter found there after a neighbor summoned help.
The woman told Colorado Springs police that she lost consciousness after drinking what she thought was lemonade.
She met the men earlier the same night when three of the defendants became embroiled in a fight with Fort Carson soldiers in the apartment complex parking lot.
After accompanying the Iraqis to an apartment, she asked about Iraqi culture and customs and expressed her sympathy over their accounts of being labeled “terrorists.” She tried to fight off her attackers but succumbed as her consciousness waned. The Gazette generally withholds the identity of rape victims.
The man accused of brutalizing the woman is 20-year-old Jasim Mohammed Hasin Ramadon, who came to the United States in 2004 after helping Fort Carson soldiers hunt insurgents in Iraq. His trial, initially set for this month, was postponed until April after a judge ruled that he was improperly questioned by police. Prosecutors have asked the Colorado Supreme Court to reverse her decision to toss evidence in the case and a ruling is expected within 90 days.
Sarmad Fadhi Mohammed, charged with forcing oral sex, is set for trial in March. Mustafa Al Feraji, allegedly an accessory, faces a jury later this month.
Ali Mohammed Hasan Al Juboori, 24, initially charged as an accessory, pleaded guilty to making false statements under a plea deal requiring him to testify against the others.
Authorities say Jasim agreed to concoct a tale at his friends’ request in which he said men the friends had met at a dance club were responsible for groping the woman. He claimed the group of strangers and the woman left afterward.
During closing arguments Wednesday, Colorado Springs defense attorney Phil Dubois suggested that police detectives put words in Jasim’s mouth during his interrogations and attributed the statements to him.
Dubois also invoked testimony by a mental health expert that Jasim’s conduct with the police was shaped by post-traumatic stress disorder.
Prosecutors Kelson Castain and Michael Allen framed the case as a straightforward matter of a man who did whatever he could to ensure that his friends wouldn’t be linked to a horrifying crime.
“If (Ramadon’s) asking them to keep him out of trouble, and the defendant did exactly what he was asked to do, his intent is clear,” Castain said.
The case went to the jury about 11 a.m. Wednesday; deliberations will resume at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.