Life sentence likely for second rape conviction

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Hennepin County Jury took less than two hours to convict Keith Washington of a first-degree attempted criminal sexual assault and is expected to be sentenced to life in prison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Washington, 39, of Minneapolis, had been convicted of a rape in 2000. With Monday’s convictions, and the jury’s findings that he acted with particular cruelty toward the victim, he is expected to get life in prison but with the possibility of parole. Washington will be sentenced on May 12. In February, a grand jury indicted Washington on 13 counts, a necessary step in order to allow a life sentence.

The trial began a week ago and after closing arguments Monday morning, the jury found Washington guilty of two counts of attempted first-degree sexual conduct, two counts of attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of first-degree robbery and one count of first-degree assault.

While Washington, who represented himself, argued to the jury that the prosecutor had not proven it was him, the jury believed otherwise. Evidence and testimony in the case convinced the jury that about 4:30 a.m. Dec. 6, Washington grabbed a woman in the 2800 block of Emerson Avenue South as she was walking. He choked her until she passed out. Two adults walking on 28th Street West heard the muffled screams and saw a man on top of the victim. They asked if she was okay and Washington said “she’s fine.” Washington pointed something at them, so they left, hid behind a car and called police.

Washington was found a short time later and he had the woman’s cell phone and identity card. He also had the cell phone, identity card and a bag of groceries of another woman who told police she was choked to unconsciousness and sexually assaulted two hours earlier and just a few blocks away. Her case was included in the grand jury indictment, but was dropped at the beginning of the trial because she was not available to testify.