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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 on charges of second-degree assault, a Class D felony, and second-degree unlawful imprisonment, a class A misdemeanor. The jury also found Mr. Rapin not guilty of the lesser included offense of second-degree attempted assault.

Mr. Rapin had been accused of kicking and stomping his then-estranged girlfriend, Tammy J. Bush, 38— who listed the same 910 Knox St. address as Mr. Rapin at the time of the incident — in the head and torso early June 12, 2011, and of restricting her movements in a vehicle.

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

Prosecutors had alleged that 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 accused of 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,” the attorney said.

Mr. Mellace said the evidence had shown that Ms. Bush exited a van that was traveling 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 took the stand and said this could not be caused by her jumping out of the car?” Mr. Mellace said.

He also pointed out that according to medical records, Ms. Bush had not reported she had been kicked or stomped when she was being interviewed by medical personnel at the hospital, despite testifying at the trial that 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 the car.

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

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

Mr. Mellace 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. He said his client was on parole at the time and was testing negative for drug use.

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

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