A St. Mary’s County jury acquitted Trevis Butler, 38, of rape on Tuesday afternoon, choosing instead to convict him of a fourth-degree sex offense, as well as five assault charges, retaliation against a witness and stalking.
Throughout the two-day trial, Butler’s attorney, Robin Ficker, argued that in September of 2018 Butler had entered the home of a woman he had been in an intimate relationship with and proceeded to have a consensual sexual encounter, and that the woman later filed false rape charges against Butler.
Central to Ficker’s case were logs of text messages sent by the woman after the incident, where she asked Butler’s wife, who he had been having sex with, and texts where she spoke with Butler about his genitals after the incident.
“I don’t think rape victims talk like that, and it’s because there wasn’t a rape,” Ficker said.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Buffy Giddens argued throughout the case that on that night Butler entered the woman’s home in order to have sex with her, and when she refused he told her that he would “test” if she has been sleeping with other men by inserting himself into her, proceeding to beat and rape her.
Days later, after contacting the St. Mary’s sheriff’s office, the woman drove to take a sexual assault forensic examination at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, where Butler had followed her and entered her car, stopping her from taking the exam.
The woman “was involved in an abusive relationship” with Butler beginning in August 2017, according to Giddens, and in one incident she was left with a black eye, and in another she alleged that Butler threatened her with a sword.
The woman left the county after charges were filed October last year.
Witnesses for the prosecution included the woman, three sheriff’s office detectives, a Maryland State Police Crime Lab investigator who tested semen samples on a pillowcase, which the woman testified she held over her face during the encounter.
For the defense, Butler’s wife testified to receiving the text messages, and Butler testified that he had a consensual encounter with the woman that night.
Butler also testified that his relationship with the woman “was a pretty toxic relationship,” and denied any wrongdoing, testifying that the woman “liked to fight,” and often fought with others.
“I’d like to thank the prosecutor, who did the best she could with the weak case she had,” Ficker said in his closing argument Tuesday afternoon, adding that he believed the case was “overcharged.”
In her closing statement Giddens said the woman “was involved in an abusive relationship for almost a year,” and recounted the events which led to the charges. She noted that the woman had quit her job at Naval Air Station Patuxent River and moved out of the county following the charges being filed.
“If none of this happened, why would she do that?” Giddens asked.
After more than two hours of deliberation on Tuesday afternoon, the jury returned its verdict at about 5 p.m., convicting Butler of two counts of first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault, one count of a fourth-degree sex offense, as well as retaliating against a witness of a crime of violence, retaliating against a witness and stalking.
First-degree assault and retaliating against a witness to a crime of violence are felony convictions. The charge of a fourth-degree sex offense is the lowest sex offense charge, and is a misdemeanor.
The jury acquitted Butler of first- and second-degree rape as well as a third-degree sex offense charge, and acquitted him of a first-degree assault charge for an assault which occurred in November 2017.
For that incident, he was convicted of second-degree assault.
Smiling during his walk out of the courthouse, Ficker said that Butler was “acquitted of the most serious charges, and that’s a very good thing.”
“I’m happy that he was convicted on the assault and retaliation charges,” Giddens said after the trial. “I hope that the sentence will be strong enough to help the victim find closure and feel safe.”
Butler is being held pending a sentencing hearing.