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Deliberations in von Ehlinger rape trial extends into a second day

Former Idaho State Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger testifies on his own behalf during day three of his rape trial at the Ada County Courthouse.
Brian Myrick
/
Idaho Press
Former Idaho State Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger testifies on his own behalf during day three of his rape trial at the Ada County Courthouse, Thursday, April 28, 2022.

Jurors in the rape trial of former state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger will deliberate for a second day after they failed to reach a verdict Thursday evening.

Closing arguments for both sides ended around noon, with court staff notifying reporters the jury hadn't yet reached a decision shortly before 8 p.m.

Earlier in the day, von Ehlinger testified for more than an hour in his defense. He strongly denied the charges and rejected any claim by the prosecution that the sexual encounter with Jane Doe that night was anything but consensual.

Boise State Public Radio doesn't identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

The two returned to von Ehlinger's apartment after a three-hour dinner at a nearby Boise restaurant in March 2021.

He described how she came to his apartment and they began kissing on the living room couch.

That’s when von Ehlinger said the two walked to his bedroom to continue making out, explicitly denying he carried Jane Doe to his bed.

He said he wouldn’t be physically capable of doing so due to a back injury he sustained during a helicopter crash while he was enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Eventually, von Ehlinger said he took off most of his clothes, got into bed with her and things escalated.

“She did it completely willingly,” he said of Doe performing oral sex on him.

At no point, von Ehlinger said, did he pin her arms down as she claims, nor did he hear her say to stop.

Von Ehlinger also denied penetrating her with his finger. Evidence shows small amounts of male DNA was detected in Jane Doe’s vagina, but not enough to conclusively show to whom it belonged.

As prosecutor Katelyn Farley cross-examined him, she sought to paint von Ehlinger as a lawmaker wielding significant social influence and power over Doe.

Von Ehlinger agreed that legislative interns held less power at the state capitol building than elected representatives and senators, but he said at no point was she under his supervision.

After von Ehlinger met Doe briefly in the office of another state legislator in January 2021, he said he would occasionally run into Doe in the hallway. At one point, he gave her a cookie and a business card with his personal cell phone number written on it.

Doe eventually texted him, according to von Ehlinger, and the two arranged to meet for dinner. He denied his intention was to start a romantic relationship with her.

Farley asked if his intentions were for networking purposes instead.

“Not necessarily,” said von Ehlinger. “She was flirting with me, so why not?”

Farley then repeatedly pressed him on what he thought the dinner meant.

“A first date is not necessarily meant to be romantic. If things go well, things can become romantic,” von Ehlinger said.

Earlier in the day, Judge Michael Reardon denied an attempt by Jon Cox, von Ehlinger’s lawyer, to dismiss the case before it went to the jury for deliberation.

Cox said the state hadn’t presented enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that von Ehlinger had used force or violence during the alleged rape.

On Wednesday, Jane Doe briefly testified before abruptly leaving the witness stand saying, "I can't do this," as she was about to describe the alleged rape.

Reardon told jurors they could not use any of Doe's testimony to reach their verdict.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!