Casper Jury Finds Man Not Guilty of Sexual Assault Charges
A jury of nine women and three men on Wednesday found a Casper man not guilty of two sex crimes.
Jurors returned to the courtroom to deliver their verdict shortly after 8:30 p.m.
Michael David Baird, 23, was tried on two counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of attempted first-degree sexual assault. One of the first-degree sexual assault charges was dismissed Wednesday following testimony from the alleged victim.
The woman, who was 18 years old on the night of July 27, 2015, said she came to Casper that day with two friends who were apartment-hunting. She told investigators she drank tequila with her friends and Baird at Baird's apartment that night before Baird sexually assaulted her in the bathroom.
Baird testified Wednesday that he entered the bathroom, where the alleged victim was vomiting, to make sure she was alright after he saw her throw up outside. He told the jury the woman made sexual advances toward him and they had consensual sex on the bathroom floor.
The woman testified Tuesday that Baird tried to force her to perform oral sex on him, saying she fought back and Baird then pushed her to the floor and forced himself upon her.
Baird and the woman are the only two people who were present in the bathroom during that time, attorneys told the jury throughout the three-day trial. Other witnesses who were out in the living room testified they believed whatever happened in the bathroom was consensual when they left Baird's apartment.
"These crimes don't happen on second street," Assistant District Attorney Brett Johnson told the jury during his closing argument Wednesday. "They happen where no one else is."
Johnson also referenced an effort by the defense to demonstrate through witness testimony that the alleged victim and Baird had been flirting throughout the evening in question.
"What if they were flirting?" Johnson asked. "Does that mean he gets to do what he did? Can a young lady flirt?
Public defender Robert Oldham, however, said his client had never previously been accused of any such crime. An ex-girlfriend of Baird's testified that he had never forced her to have sex.
Oldham also argued the woman claimed Baird sexually assaulted her because a friend who was at Baird's apartment that night was upset at the idea that the woman and Baird -- who had a girlfriend, but was in an open relationship with her at the time -- had sex, with Baird cheating on his girlfriend by doing so.
"That girl has regrets," Oldham told jurors. "At some point in our lives, we have to take responsibility for the things we do."
"That she had to take the stand is terrible," Oldham added. "We don't know what happened in that bathroom."