The jury deliberating on the fate of a man accused of raping Waldo area women has found him guilty.
The jury found Bernard Jackson guilty on all 18 counts, which included rape, sodomy and robbery.
It took four hours of deliberation for the jury to reach a verdict.
Jackson remained stoic as each of the guilty verdicts was read.
Assistant Jackson County Prosecutor Ted Hunt said DNA was the key to the case.
"We were right up front with the jury from the get go," Hunt said about the DNA evidence. "We asked them if they could base their verdict solely on the evidence. And they all indicated they could."
Earlier, the jury asked the judge three questions Friday afternoon.
Bernard Jackson is on trial for raping four women in the Waldo area between 1983 through 1984. He is a suspect in sexual assaults in the same area from 2009 through 20010.
The trial began Monday and deliberations started just after noon Friday.
After taking a lunch break, the jury asked for assistance in interpreting some legal language regarding the charges.
The jury asked for a definition of, "In the course of this conduct." Jurors wanted to know whether it related to the time of intrusion or the time of the exit of a residence.
The judge didn't answer the question, but instead directed the jurors to use the information in the trial and their collective memory.
The second question was for a definition of "immediate use of physical force," and whether that meant at the time of a specific act or during the home invasions. District Court Judge Charles Atwell told the jurors that he could not answer that question but that jurors must follow the instructions they were given.
The third question was to have the transcript of two of the rape victims read to them again and a list of the stolen property in the case. Atwell said he could not provide transcripts and there were no police reports related to the stolen property.
Closing arguments were held Friday morning.
Prosecutors argued that the evidence against Jackson was overwhelming.
During closing arguments Friday morning, Assistant Jackson County Prosecutor Trisha Lacey recounted to jurors the horrifying details of the women being raped and sodomized from 1983 through 1984. Each woman was bound, gagged, blindfolded and sexually assaulted, prosecutors say.
Lacey said DNA taken from the women was Jackson's.
"That semen and sperm belongs to this man with a statistical rarity (probability) of 1 in 143 quadrillion," Lacey said. She said the DNA matched Jackson's profile and he must be convicted.
Ted Hunt, assistant prosecutor, said the women haven't had justice in 28 years and that the jury could give them what they desperately want.
But defense attorneys, who didn't call any witnesses, called into question the dated procedures of collecting evidence. Defense attorney Cari Allen contends mistakes were made that could convict innocent people.
"We have evidence that was collected 20 years ago," Allen said. "Twenty years ago, they had no idea DNA was on the horizon. Evidence was handled differently then."
She also argued that none of the women ever say a weapon since they were blindfolded.
The women said they felt the steel butt of a gun pressed against their heads and that their attacker said he was armed.
The jury has been sequestered.
Jackson is also accused of raping Waldo area women from 2009 through 2010.
Tuesday, September 16 2014 3:01 PM EDT2014-09-16 19:01:19 GMT
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