“For the first time in 20 years, a serial rapist kept Akron in a state of fear. Last fall, four women, including three University of Akron students, were raped in homes on Spicer, Carroll and Kling streets, and an additional woman was a victim of an attempted rape.””
For the first time in 20 years, a serial rapist kept Akron in a state of fear.
Last fall, four women, including three University of Akron students, were raped in homes on Spicer, Carroll and Kling streets, and an additional woman was a victim of an attempted rape.
On Aug. 12, 2008, a jury found Christopher Butts guilty of over 20 charges including the three rapes and attempted rape.
Three young women told similar stories.
In the early morning hours, a man came through a window and raped them.
On Sept. 21, 2007, a freshman awoke in a Spicer St. home to a man climbing on top of her and raping her.
She could not identify or describe her attacker but noted that he reeked of body odor, as though he had not showered for days.
The attempted rape of a 33-year-old mother occurred on Oct. 17, 2007 in a Garfield Street home. Butts walked through the front door and assaulted the woman inside. The woman pulled a knife on her attacker and tried to fend him off before eventually escaping through her back door.
Nov. 4, 2007 marked yet another rape of a college student. A man entered the bedroom window of a Carroll St. residence, attacked the woman inside and raped her.
The last rape linked to Christopher Butts occurred on Jan. 7, 2008 on Kling St. near UA’s campus. In that instance, Butts climbed through the bedroom window of a UA senior, choked her until she passed out and raped her.
The DNA and fingerprints left behind at the crime scenes linked Christopher Butts to the three rapes and the attempted rape.
Summit County Prosecutor Sheri Bevan Walsh chose to personally prosecute this case, along with criminal division chief Mary Ann Kovach.
Among the assaults, strangulation and threats of violence were common.
A Summit County grand jury indicted Christopher Butts on 22 charges, including rape, attempted rape, gross sexual imposition, kidnapping, felonious assault and theft-related offenses.
A number of the charges carried Sexual Motivation specifications and Sexually Violent Predator specifications.
Prosecutors initially offered Butts a sentence of 50 years to life if he pled guilty to all charges, but he rejected the offer.
Prosecutors admitted approximately 300 pieces of evidence to prove their case against Butts, including fingerprints and DNA evidence.
The DNA evidence linked Butts to two of the rapes and the attempted rape.
During the trial, Troy Reeves called into question the reliability of DNA evidence. He argued DNA ”is all [prosecutors] have. Without DNA they have nothing,” as recorded by The Akron Beacon Journal.
Reeves argued that the prosecution lacked a key piece of evidence – an eyewitness.
One victim did correctly identify a photo of Butts as her attacker but, even then, she was uncertain.
Another victim viewed Butts, who had been stopped near her home moments after her rape, but she could not identify him.
In her testimony, she told jurors that it had been dark in her bedroom and the man who raped her was wearing a hood.
Judge Paul Gallagher presided over the case in a small courtroom in the Summit County Courthouse.
Spectators watched the proceedings from six narrow wooden benches.
Closing statements took place Aug. 11. Prosecutor Walsh opened her closing statement by saying that, This was a case about the courage, and strength of four incredible women. Women who came to this courtroom, sat on that witness stand and relived their worst nightmare.
Prosecutor Walsh used her closing statement to systematically review the case in a PowerPoint presentation, listing all the charges against Butts and the evidence supporting them.
Reeves began his closing statement with an admission of guilt. Butts was no longer claiming that he had consensual sex with the student in the January assault. Butts admitted to raping the woman but denied any involvement in the other two rapes or attempted rape, despite the DNA and fingerprints linking him to these crimes.
In response to the prosecution’s evidence, the defense presented four main arguments.
Reeves suggested that Butts had consensual sex and the accusations were false. He then asserted that the women had been raped but not by Butts.
He also called DNA analysis junk science and sought to discredit DNA as not real evidence, not as reliable as an eyewitness.
Finally, he implied that there was a conspiracy involving the prosecutor’s office, police and forensic scientists who analyzed the DNA and fingerprint samples.
The jury, however, believed prosecutors and, on the first day of deliberations, found Butts guilty of 20 charges, including the Sexual Motivation specifications.
He was found not guilty of two robbery charges.
Judge Gallagher will sentence Butts on Sept. 22.
With the 20 felony convictions and specifications, he is facing up to 160 years in prison.