A Berkeley County jury acquitted a man last week of most charges that stemmed from a woman’s claims she had been sexually assaulted on the side of a dark, rural road by two men who pretended to be law enforcement officers.
Darrien Jermain Walker, 23, of Otranto Road in North Charleston, was convicted of impersonating an officer but was found not guilty at trial of kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, Berkeley County court records show. His co-defendant, Brandon Gibson, 24, also of Otranto Road, remained jailed Tuesday awaiting trial on the same charges.
“My major concern with this case was a serious lack of physical evidence linking my client or the co-defendant to the crime,” Walker’s attorney Ryan Schwartz said.
The alleged victim gave a statement to investigators saying two men had followed her from a bar in Goose Creek to Moncks Corner before assaulting her around 2 a.m. Sept. 14, 2013, Schwartz said. He questioned the woman’s credibility, saying the version of events she initially provided was inconsistent with testimony she gave while on the stand.
An incident report released by sheriff’s deputies alleged Walker and Gibson flashed red and blue lights on a cellphone to pull the woman over on Whitesville Road.
Both men claimed to be working undercover and accused the woman of appearing suspicious, she reported to investigators. One searched the woman’s car while another patted her down, “feeling every part of her body,” the report stated.
At one point, one leaned into the woman’s car, placed his hand on the seat between her legs and told her she was attractive, according to the report. He asked for the woman’s number, which she refused. He then grew angry, the report said, ordering her out of the vehicle and wrapping his arms around her so she couldn’t move.
“All she could do was scream,” the report said, prompting one man to place his hand over her mouth. He asked the other to retrieve a gun from their vehicle as he attempted to force her inside and take off her pants, the report said.
The woman fought back and the men eventually let her go, she reported.
Deputies pulled over a vehicle that matched a description provided by the woman shortly after the alleged assault. A gun was found in the car, deputies said, and the two men were placed under arrest after the woman identified them.
Walker had attended Brevard College on a football scholarship and transferred to Charleston Southern University shortly before his arrest. He was taken into custody a week before he was scheduled to begin classes there, Schwartz said. He remained jailed until his acquittal Thursday, he said.
Walker was sentenced to a year with credit for time served on the impersonation charge, court records show. He faced a maximum 30-year prison sentence if convicted of the kidnapping charge alone, Schwartz said.
“Thirty years is a significant, life-changing amount of time. ... You never know what’s going to happen when you go to a jury, but I felt confident that we had exposed issues in the state’s case and that the jury would see through the smoke and mirrors,” Schwartz said.
Ninth Circuit Assistant Solicitor Matt Ozment, who prosecuted the case, declined to comment on the trial’s outcome.
A date for Gibson’s trial had not been set as of Tuesday afternoon.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Walker’s sentence.