A Silver Spring teen was acquitted Wednesday of all counts in a retrial for the rape of a 17-year-old girl that allegedly took place in an abandoned house in Gaithersburg last February.
Carlos Alberto Dominguez, 17, of the 2100 block of Belvedere Boulevard, left Montgomery County Circuit Court a free man after the jury returned its verdict at about 6:45 p.m., said John Sharifi, Dominguez' defense attorney. Dominguez was acquitted on all three charges, one each for first-degree rape, the use of a handgun in a violent crime and first-degree sex offense, Sharifi said.
"I'm very thankful for the jury and I'm glad that they were able to see the truth in this case," Sharifi said, adding that the verdict was announced less than an hour after closing arguments. "If you put all of the pieces together, it becomes clear that Carlos is not guilty; the truth came out and the jury obviously saw that."
Dominguez originally stood trial for the charges, in addition to a second charge of first-degree rape, in August, but the jury in that trial was unable to reach a verdict. Dominguez was also acquitted on one of his first-degree rape charges by Judge Sharon V. Burrell at that trial, Sharifi said.
Dominguez was one of three men charged with the Feb. 18 rape of the victim, a 17-year-old Gaithersburg girl, along with 19-year-old Luis Parada, of Silver Spring, and 22-year-old Jose J. Portillo, of Gaithersburg. While both Parada and Portillo pleaded guilty previously in the case, Dominguez maintained his innocence leading up to his first trial in August.
After the first trial ended with a hung jury, a new trial date was set for Monday, Sharifi said. After a jury was selected Monday, one final setback postponed Dominguez' case, Sharifi added.
"On Monday there was a mistrial because of an improper remark that the state made in their opening remarks, but a new jury got the case and on Wednesday afternoon, justice was served," he said.
Sharifi added that Dominguez was "ecstatic" after hearing the verdict Wednesday, but declined to allow his client to speak on the record.
Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office, was available for comment Thursday in lieu of Assistant State's Attorneys Patrick Mays and Ryan Wechsler, who prosecuted the case at both trials.
"We disagree with the verdict but we have to respect the jury's decision and we'll abide by it," Korionoff said.
Korionoff also pointed to the guilty pleas entered by both of Dominguez' co-defendants in the case — Parada pleaded guilty to first-degree rape Oct. 9 while Portillo pleaded guilty as an accessory after the fact to first-degree rape in August — as successes for his office.
"Our office seeks out justice, and, as part of our prosecution of the three defendants, it is important to hold people accountable for their actions," he said. "And in the case of those two individuals, we were able to do that."
Parada is scheduled to be sentenced in December while Portillo was sentenced to serve two years of a five-year sentence at his hearing Sept. 27, court documents state.
All three men — Dominguez was tried as an adult due to the severity of the crime he was accused of — were originally linked by Montgomery County police to be associates or members of the MS-13 street gang, an association Sharifi vehemently denied on behalf of his client prior to his trial.
References to Dominguez's alleged gang ties were not introduced at either of his trials, Korionoff said.
"In this case, we pursued it strictly on the rape and sexual offense allegations," he said.