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Jury finds Ogdensburg man not guilty on assault, unlawful imprisonment charges

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CANTON - A St. Lawrence County jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding an Ogdensburg man not guilty of assault and unlawful imprisonment charges.

Nathan G. Rapin, 35, had been indicted for second-degree assault, a Class D felony, and second-degree unlawful imprisonment, a class A misdemeanor. The jury also found Rapin not guilty of the lesser included offenses of second-degree attempted assault

Mr. Rapin had been charged with kicking and stomping his then estranged girlfriend, Tammy J. Bush, 38, also listing a 910 Knox St. address at the time of the incident, in the head and torso in the early morning hours of June 12, 2011 and restricting her movements in a vehicle.

Testimony in the trial started Thursday, and Rapin and Bush were among the witnesses to testify before the five-man, seven-woman jury.

Prosecutors had alleged Mr. Rapin chased Ms. Bush down on Lafayette Street, dragged her back to his vehicle and held her head down until she was able to get away on Knox Street. He was charged with kicking Ms. Bush several times in a grassy area behind a residence on Knox Street.

Defense attorney Frank Mellace II told jurors during his closing argument that prosecutors had been unable to prove that the injuries Ms. Bush suffered in the late evening hours of June 11, 2011 or the early morning hours of June 12, 2011 came from the feet of his client.

“There are a number of reasonable doubts in this case. They must prove the cause of the injuries sustained by Ms. Bush occurred on Knox Street, and they had to prove Nathan caused serious injuries with a dangerous instrument, a shoe.”

He pointed out the evidence had shown Ms. Bush exited a van that was travelling at 20 mph to 30 mph and hit the pavement. “The prosecutors will claim her injuries had nothing to do with her coming out of a motor vehicle at 20, 30 mph and hitting the roadway with no protective gear. What expert testified took the stand and said this could not be caused by her jumping out of the car,” Mr. Mellace said.

“Add to this the claim Ms. Bush is making that he repeatedly punched her in the face, smashed her head over and over into the dashboard and against the passenger side window and that he held her head by throat while holding her down,” he noted.

“Ms. Bush herself said she sustained a number of injuries in the van - two black eyes, a bump on the head, scratches to the face and neck and bruising to her face. If that is removed, what is left for Knox Street?” he asked.

He also pointed out that according to the medical records Ms. Bush had not reported she had been kicked or stomped on when she was being interviewed by medical personnel at the hospital despite testifying at the trial Mr. Rapin had kicked her 15 times in the head and 35 times in the body.

Mr. Mellace said the medical report suggested Ms. Bush had suffered her injuries when she left from the vehicle. “There was no mention of being kicked, no mention of shoes. She’s kicked 50 times and never mentions it in four opportunities to hospital staff/” he asked incredulously.

He noted his client believed Ms. Bush had suffered her injuries when she jumped out of the vehicle and when he was blocking her punches when she attacked him in the van.

Mr. Mellace said the medical records simply didn’t support Ms. Bush’s allegation that she had been kicked 50 times. “There’s not one busted tooth, her lip ain’t even swollen, no swelling to her nose or either side of her face. The x ray showed no rib fractures were identified and there was no soft tissue damage according to the medical records. You would have to put aside your full common sense to believe what she is saying,” he suggested.

Ms. Bush testified she had kicked Mr. Rapin out of her residence three weeks before the incident, but Mr. Mellace noted his client had told the jurors he had been spent the night before the incident with her and she had testified they had been together in Alexandria Bay together the previous weekend.

He said Ms. Bush simply lacked credibility. “She’s on crack cocaine herself and says she kicked him out because he was doing drugs in the presence of her kids,” Mr. Mellace said, noting his client was on parole at the time and testing negative for drug use.

St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney James Monroe prosecuted the case.

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