Second trial for Paso man accused of raping his girlfriend’s aunt heads to jury

Rian Mabus testifies during his July 2016 trial on rape charges. He is currently being tried again after jurors hung on one of two charges in that trial.
Rian Mabus testifies during his July 2016 trial on rape charges. He is currently being tried again after jurors hung on one of two charges in that trial.

A Paso Robles man on trial for the second time for allegedly raping his girlfriend’s intoxicated aunt was portrayed by prosecutors as someone who has “zero problem lying to get out of trouble,” while the defense of Rian Mabus said he had consensual sex with his accuser the night of Aug. 31, 2014.

Jurors went into deliberations Thursday afternoon in the San Luis Obispo Superior Court trial of Mabus, a former U.S. Marine, after both the prosecuting and defense attorneys delivered their closing arguments, concluding four days of trial proceedings. Mabus was acquitted on charges of raping an unconscious person in July 2016, but the jury in that trial deadlocked on another charge of raping an intoxicated person, leading to a second trial.

“This is a case about a woman who was too intoxicated to form any words,” Deputy District Attorney Julie Antos said as she began her closing remarks.

The alleged victim, referred to in court as Jane Doe, testified in the first trial that on Aug. 31 she became drunk after an evening of cocktails and television with Mabus and her adult niece, his then-girlfriend. Doe lost consciousness in the bathroom, waking facedown in her own vomit as Mabus penetrated her vagina from behind.

In his own testimony, Mabus said he went to use the bathroom, and Doe made a sexual advance on him. He acknowledged that the two had sex, but said it was consensual.

That testimony, however, differed from what Mabus initially told the Atascadero Police Department — that he never had sexual contact with Doe.

Antos argued that Mabus changed his story several times, including between his first and second trial. “He’s already shown he has zero problem lying to get out of trouble,” Antos said Thursday.

The prosecutor said Mabus started by telling an Atascadero police detective that Doe was really drunk, that perhaps she had mixed drugs and alcohol.

Antos then told jurors that Mabus changed his story to say he didn’t know Doe was intoxicated, contradicting his own testimony.

In the first trial, Mabus said he helped Doe get off of the floor, where she was hugging a toilet and vomiting. On the stand Wednesday, Mabus said he tapped Doe and asked her to move so he could use the bathroom.

Antos asked Mabus whether he was lying in 2016 or lying Wednesday.

“Yesterday, he took the stand and now he’s completely flipped the script,” Antos said.

Mabus said in his testimony it had been three years since the alleged rape and that he was going off of his recollection of events. His attorney, Matthew Guerrero, challenged Doe’s version of events in his closing remarks.

He told jurors that if Doe’s claim of vomiting all over her shirt were true, “Ms. Antos would have brought it in and put it on a hanger.”

Guerrero said Doe’s own relatives only thought she was “normal drunk,” asking how Mabus — who had met Doe only hours earlier — could be expected to tell if she was blackout drunk if her own family could not.

Guerrero challenged Doe’s tone of voice in her interview with police and then in her testimony on the witness stand. He said she sounded calm and deliberate with police in an audio recording played for jurors. On the witness stand, she was much more emotional, Guerrero said.

“Why is there a difference in emotion? Because she’s trying to affect the outcome,” Guerrero said.

He added that “someone coached her, and whoever did that did a disservice.”

Guerrero also reminded jurors of a text message exchange after the incident between Doe and Mabus’ then-girlfriend. The defense lawyer said there was no sign of distress in the messages, in which she said that she had hoped everyone had a good Labor Day weekend.

“Where’s the woman that’s scared?” Guerrero asked.

Jurors are expected to resume deliberation Friday.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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