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Decision expected in Naval Academy case

Created: 03/20/2014 11:26 AM WHEC.com
By: JESSICA GRESKO

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge says he'll issue his decision Thursday in the case of a former U.S. Naval Academy football player accused of sexually assaulting a female classmate.

Lawyers gave closing arguments Thursday morning, the third day of a military trial for Joshua Tate of Nashville, Tenn., and the judge hearing the case said he would issue his decision around noon.

Tate faces charges of aggravated sexual assault and lying to investigators in a trial that turns on whether the woman was too drunk to consent to sex during a 2012 party at an off-campus house in Annapolis, Md., where the Naval Academy is located.

Tate's court-martial, the military equivalent of a trial, is being closely watched case as the military tries to improve the way it handles sexual assault cases. Tate elected to have a judge, rather than a military jury, decide his case.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Lt. Cmdr. Phil Hamon pointed to witnesses who described the alleged victim as drunk during the party, saying she was slurring her words and falling down on the dance floor. Hamon argued the woman, who testified for hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, was not able to communicate competent decisions. She said she doesn't remember having sex with Tate, but he later told her they had.

The Associated Press generally doesn't name alleged victims of sexual assault.

But Cmdr. Art Record, one of Tate's defense attorneys, argued that witness and expert testimony showed the woman was not "substantially incapacitated" by alcohol.

"She had the capacity to make her own decisions and to physically execute those decisions and to communicate her wishes throughout the evening," he said.

Tate faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him, aggravated sexual assault, another one of his lawyers has said.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)



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