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Teton County rape case ends in mistrial for the second time

Crime Watch

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DRIGGS — District Seven Court Judge Steven Boyce declared a mistrial after a Teton County jury of eight women and four men said they had received confidential evidence during deliberation this afternoon.

Tetonia resident Ryan Richard Berry, 41, was on trial for four felony counts including rape, destruction of evidence, supplying alcohol to a minor and video voyeurism. This was the second time his jury trial ended in a mistrial.

RELATED | Mistrial declared in rape case after jurors fail to show up

“I’m going to discuss the outcome with the victim and decide whether to retry it,” said Teton County Prosecutor Bailey Smith after the mistrial was declared.

The evidence in question was a piece of redacted Teton County Sheriff Deputy video taken on a body-worn camera during the execution of a search warrant at Berry’s home in 2018. The video had been redacted or edited, per the defense’s request in favor of Berry. The redacted video had been used during the trial, but the unredacted video somehow ended up with the jury during their deliberation.

Members of the jury let the judge know during their deliberation they had somehow obtained the unredacted video. Upon realizing the mistake, Boyce called the court back into order and proceeded to declare a mistrial.

The prosecutor does have the option to re-try the case.

The case was originally filed in 2018 and since then has lagged in the courts sometimes through legal maneuvering and other times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has become the longest open case in Teton County over the last 30 years.

Berry has been out of jail on $50,000 bail since his arrest in 2018. In April, newly elected prosecutor Bailey Smith opted to add one more felony charge alleging that Berry destroyed or attempted to destroy evidence of a rape and video voyeurism.

RELATED | Teton County rape case gets new charge, heads to trial

Smith took the case to trial in May, but was thwarted when Boyce declared a mistrial when not enough jurors could be found to serve that day. A bench warrant was issued for 11 jurors who did not show for duty. In June, Berry was charged again with a felony for attempting to influence a potential juror. That case is scheduled for July 28.

Over the course of four days this week, Smith presented DNA and physical evidence, photos taken from Berry’s phone, police recordings and testimony from the victim.

“This is a case about a man who preyed upon a young girl and tried to get away with it,” Smith said in her closing arguments Thursday afternoon. “Berry was so confident that he had gotten rid of all the evidence that when cops showed up to search his place, he boasted that they would find nothing.”

Defense attorney Jim Archibald asked in his closing statements, “When did this consent start? When she was packing her overnight bag and went to his house? When he picked her up? When she watched a movie at his house? When she drank alcohol? When she poured herself alcohol? When was the consent revoked?”

Archibald also argued that the state did not have the evidence to suggest that Berry manipulated the victim’s drink with a drug. The state argued that Berry bragged about the rape and use of drugs to a cellmate at the Madison County Jail after he was arrested. Blood and urine tests from the victim had proved inconclusive because of the alleged time lapse between the drug being issued and the report of the crime.

Smith made the case that Berry sought out the victim, someone he worked with at the local grocery store in Driggs and preyed on her as a vulnerable woman who struggled with depression and self-esteem issues. She presented text and social media messages showing a caring Berry who called the woman “baby.”

She showed the jury a set of images obtained on Berry’s cell phone where the woman was unconscious and undressed.

“She was under the influence,” continued Smith. “She’s unconscious and unable to resist.” Smith then reminded the jury of a social media message from the victim prior to the rape that read, “I won’t f*** you.”

Bailey said after the victim sent that message, Barry got drunk and sent angry messages back to the victim.

“At that point, Berry had made a decision and he wasn’t going to take no for an answer,” said Bailey.

Archibald declined to comment about the mistrial.

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