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Mistrial declared in rape case

The day-long trial of a Baker County man for sexual battery on a young girl came to abrupt halt the afternoon of August 3 when the judge declared a mistrial because she feared a defense attorney’s closing argument may have biased the jury.

The decision means a new trial date will be set for later this year on the two felony counts pending against Charleton D. Lauramore. He is charged with raping a girl under the age of 12 on at least five occasions between December, 2005 and June of the following year.

Both the 45-year-old defendant and the victim testified earlier that day before the six-member jury began deliberation in the late afternoon. The jury foreman sent a note to Judge Phyllis Rosier shortly after inquiring about the maximum sentences under law for sexual battery and battery.

Before the jury was sent to deliberate, the judge mentioned during routine instructions that those two charges are options if the panel voted for conviction rather an acquittal.

In his closing remarks, assistant public defender George Nelson remarked to the jury that it had Mr. Lauramore’s “life in your hands” and Judge Rosier decided that may have been prejudicial. In fact, Mr. Lauramore could get life if convicted.

The jury that included five females was dismissed and the case will be re-set. The original trial date of July 11 had been twice postponed, once due to illness of assistant state attorney Lorelie Papel and the second time because of a feared outbreak of chicken pox at county jail where the defendant is housed.

Mr. Lauramore has a history of violent behavior, and in October, 2006 was sentenced to five years in prison for felony battery. He was released in the summer of 2011 and the victim made her allegations while he was still in a west Florida prison.

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