A Dawes County District Court jury has convicted a former Chadron resident of 1st-degree sexual assault in a 2013 incident that came down to whose account of the incident and whether consent was given the jury believed.
Jesse Barber of Omaha faces from 1-to-50 years in prison and remains free on bond until he’s sentenced on November 20th. The jury deliberated only about 3 hours before returning the guilty verdict to end a 2-day trial that had testimony on Thursday and closing arguments Friday morning.
Barber shook his head in disbelief when the verdict was read while the victim, sitting on the opposite side of the courtroom surrounded by family, wept silently. As the room emptied, Barber and his family used sometimes graphic language to describe their belief that the case against him was built on lies.
The victim, who was 17 at the time and friends with Barber, had gone to his home at her mother’s recommendation because she was drunk and her mother was in Omaha. She testified she was so drunk that she remembered little after arriving to sleep in his bed while he would sleep on the couch and recalled nothing about the incident.
Barber said the couch was so uncomfortable that he also went to the king-size bed, but to the far opposite side from the teen and that she later initiated actions that led to sex. He also said while she was drunk, she was still in control of her actions.
The girl had been seen walking by another man who worried about her condition and helped her get to Barber’s, then called police to further check on her. Police testimony and body camera video of the ensuing visit was cited by both sides as evidence for their interpretation of the girl’s condition.
Although the incident occurred in April 2013, Barber wasn’t arrested until last August. Prosecutor Joe Stecher says that was because police weren’t told of it until last May.