Jury convicts suspects' lookout in rape of two Minn. teens at gunpoint
ST. PAUL—Deandray Easley wasn't the one who sexually assaulted two teenage girls who were repeatedly raped at gunpoint in a St. Paul park this past summer, but his actions that night were enough to convince a jury that he played a pivotal role in what happened.
After a day and a half of deliberations, a Ramsey County District Court jury Wednesday found the 19-year-old St. Paul man guilty of all 10 counts against him in the June 5 attack. Those included two counts of aiding and abetting first-degree criminal sexual conduct, four counts of aiding and abetting first-degree aggravated robbery, and four counts of aiding and abetting kidnapping.
The Ramsey County attorney's office declined to make a statement on the verdict Wednesday as cases are still pending against other defendants in the case.
Easley's public defender, A.L. Brown, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Prosecutors and the witnesses called during Easley's roughly weeklong trial described him as the informal leader of the group that held up two teen girls and their two male friends on Harriet Island about 11 p.m. June 5.
The teens were eating food from McDonald's on the hood of a car when Easley and three of his friends walked up, flashed a gun, and robbed the teens of their belongings, authorities say.
Then they ordered the two boys to strip down to their underwear and lie face-down in the grass while Easley's three male acquaintances forced the girls into a nearby car and took turns raping them, prosecutors said.
Easley guarded the girls' friends, who were made to listen as the assaults unfolded, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Kelly Olmstead said during her opening statement in the trial.
"(They were) helpless to do anything about it because (Easley) stood watch ... asking them if they wanted to die," Olmstead said. "(Easley) did nothing to stop the sexual assaults."
Easley's choices that night make him culpable for what happened, Olmstead argued at trial.
Olmstead prosecuted the case along with Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Elizabeth Lamin.
In his defense, Brown tried to convince jurors that while the kidnapping and sexual assaults that took place that night were "vicious," "sick," and "demented," Easley wasn't to blame.
On the contrary, Easley told his friends to "knock it off," and informed the young women they could stop what was happening without fear of repercussion if they wanted, Brown said during his opening statement.
Brown admitted that the evidence wasn't favorable to his client as far as the robbery charges.
Authorities say Devontre Vann, 19, Vershone Hodges, 20, and Choncey Stewart, 16, were accomplices during the incident. All three were charged with raping the young women, as well as aiding in the robberies and kidnapping.
Stewart, Easley and Hodges are gang members, according to the Ramsey County attorney's office.
Hodges pleaded guilty to four of the six charges facing him in the case. He is expected to be sentenced in January. Stewart's and Vann's case are proceeding toward trial with hearings scheduled for both next month.
Easley will be sentenced in late January.