Lark Allan Ramsey, 45, smiled and said nothing as Clerk of Courts Rose Svonavec read the verdict: guilty of rape, guilty of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, guilty of aggravated indecent assault, guilty of aggravated assault, guilty of assault by prisoner, guilty of aggravated harassment by prisoner. Ramsey did not look at the jury.
"It is a relief to know that I was believed and that justice has been served," the woman wrote in a statement immediately after the jury's verdict was read.
The crime occurred June 9, 2008, when Ramsey was housed in the skilled care unit of the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands' medical building. He grabbed the nursing assistant when she entered his room to answer his call for help, threw her on the bed and choked her, bit her and sexually assaulted her before allowing her to leave, according to testimony at the trial.
The jury of eight men and four women deliberated for 40 minutes after a two-day trial in which 13 witnesses testified. The witnesses included the woman who was assaulted, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, expert witnesses and a former inmate at SCI-Laurel Highlands. Ramsey did not testify.
"I'm pleased with the verdict," said District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser after her first trial in Somerset County.
Two state police forensic scientists from the Greensburg crime lab testified Friday morning. Michelle Barch, who identifies body fluids, testified that she found a large number of sperm in physical evidence collected from the woman.
The sperm count indicated that "not a long time took place when the ejaculation took place and when the sexual assault exam kit was taken," she said.
Alex Glessner, who provided the DNA analysis, testified that Ramsey's DNA was found on the evidence.
The assault survivor testified for nearly two hours about her ordeal.
In her closing statement, Lazzari-Strasiser said that the nursing assistant was not the one on trial. "She has lived in this nightmare for three and a half years," she said. She called Ramsey a liar and a fake.
"He had everything to gain by being a fake. He ended up on an unsecured medical floor," she said. "Everything points to the attack (on the nursing assistant) being planned and calculated."
Defense attorney J. Michael Smith told the jury one of the big questions that needed to be answered was whether Ramsey was physically capable of carrying out the assault.
The sole witness for the defense was Johnstown neurologist Dr. William DeMayo, who testified that Ramsey's condition in 2008 would have made it difficult for him to stand.
"I don't see how it would be possible to turn and pick someone up" with the atrophy, or wasting muscles, in his legs, he testified.
He examined Ramsey's medical records from 2006, when he became wheelchair bound. DeMayo said that Ramsey's physical incapacity was due to a spinal cord injury. Ramsey's condition has worsened since the incident, he said.
Smith discussed DeMayo's testimony during his closing statement. He told the jury that if there was sexual contact, as the forensic scientists indicated, Ramsey would have needed some sort of cooperation.
The two correctional officers who testified Thursday that they saw Ramsey stand in separate sightings within six months of the incident "do not negate the evidence that Mr. Ramsey is incapable of picking her up and turning and throwing her on the bed," he said.
The jury decided he was capable. Ramsey is scheduled for sentencing April 12.