COLUMBIA, Mo. - A jury found a Jefferson City man not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman at knife point in Columbia.
The jury deliberated for several hours on Jemell Butler's case Wednesday night before deciding he was not guilty of attempted sodomy or armed criminal action. They did, however, find Butler guilty of misdemeanor stealing, as opposed to the second-degree robbery charge he was first charged with.
Butler was arrested in October in the University Subaru lot on I-70 Drive. He was accused of arranging to pay the woman from Illinois $1,000 for sex on backpage.com, posing as another person. Prosecutor Ryan Redmon said that Butler drove the car behind a business on I-70 Drive after the two met at the Toys 'R Us parking lot. While parked, Redmon said Butler threatened her to perform a "sex act" while pointing a knife at her.
Butler's attorney, Matthew Mueller, said it was instead the woman who threatened Butler with the knife. Surveillance video of a nearby store shows the two pulling behind the business. The video shows Butler climbing out of the car and running away with the woman's phone. Butler suffered several cuts to his hand. Mueller explained that the woman threatened him with a knife when he couldn't provide the $1,000 promised, while Redmon claimed Butler tried grabbing the knife when the woman tried grabbing it off the ground.
Redmon said he was disappointed with the decision, based on the evidence presented, but he accepted the verdict.
Butler is set to be sentenced February 8. He also faces two pending cases, involving similar crimes in Columbia.