A Fairfax Circuit Court jury yesterday found a 24-year-old Reston man guilty of raping a Vienna woman and recommended 43 years in prison on the rape charge and a related burglary count.
Roland Van Thompson, whose indictment last March prompted Fairfax County police to announce they had ended their investigation into several rapes in the Reston area, was convicted of raping a 37-year-old woman in her town house Jan. 6.
The jury returned the verdict after slightly more than two hours of deliberation at the conclusion of a two-day trial. The seven-woman, five-man jury recommended 35 years in prison for rape and eight years for burglary with intent to commit larceny. The jury found Thompson innocent of a third charge, burglary with intent to rape.
Judge William G. Plummer set a July 15 sentencing date for Thompson, who had pleaded innocent on the three counts.
Prosecutors and police involved in the case expressed surprise at the jury's relatively quick verdict in a case that they said was investigated under intensive public pressure and brought to trial after several setbacks. Members of the defendant's family, some of whom prayed in the courtroom during the jury's deliberations, left the courthouse dismayed.
"There is no eyewitness to this crime," deputy commonwealth's attorney V. Britt Richardson Jr. told the jury during closing arguments yesterday. "Not even the victim can identify him."
Plummer dealt the prosecution a setback when he ruled that much of their evidence had been discovered with an illegally obtained search warrant and could not be admitted at the trial.The judge tossed out evidence found in Thompson's car, including a third ring stolen from the victim's house and tools believed to have been used in the burglary.
The prosecution centered its case on two rings that had been stolen from the victim the night of the rape. Thompson sold the rings at a District pawnshop six days after the rape, according to court testimony.
Defense attorney John Bancroft told jurors that the prosecution "made a mountain out of a molehill" when it tried to use work clothes, a hat and a screwdriver found in Thompson's car to connect him to the rape and burglary.
"He was a home-improvement man," Bancroft said. "Is it so unusual to find a hat, work clothes and a screwdriver in his car?"
Thompson is the second man to be convicted of a rape in connection with that investigation. Raphael J. Boyd, 22, of Reston, was convicted May 10 of raping a 31-year-old Vietnamese woman near Falls Church. A jury recommended a life prison term on that charge. Last week Boyd pleaded guilty to a second rape in the Reston area, in which a 52-year-old woman was attacked in her town house.