TWIN FALLS • After a three-week trial where a man representing himself called dozens of witnesses, a jury returned its verdict to a full courtroom Wednesday evening.
In the case against a Twin Falls man accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl the jury unanimously found Robert Brackett guilty on all counts except one. The jury was undecided on one count — sexual battery of a minor.
Brackett, 44, was found guilty of five counts of sexual battery of a minor and eight counts of possession of child pornography.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 3 in Twin Falls County 5th District Court.
Brackett has been representing himself in the case and said he would be appealing the verdict.
The case was turned over to jurors at about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, and jurors delivered their verdict just before 5 p.m.
Dozens of employees from the Twin Falls County Prosecutors Office, Twin Falls Police and the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office along with other court staff packed into the courtroom to hear the verdict.
After the verdict was read, District Judge Michael Crabtree thanked the jurors for their “exemplary service” during the trial.
During her closing argument Wednesday morning, Twin Falls County Deputy Prosecutor Julie Sturgill said it was clear that the state had proven Brackett had an illegal sexual relationship with the 16 year old girl.
Sturgill described the alleged relationship as a “perfect setup” for Brackett that fell apart after an argument Brackett and the victim had in January 2011, which eventually led to the girl admitting to the relationship to staff at her high school.
In her argument, Sturgill said Brackett liked that the girl was a slightly ditzy 16-year-old romantic who wrote him poems. He knew she had a crush on him, Sturgill argued.
At the same time, Sturgill argued that Brackett also liked that the girl was smart enough to know she should keep quiet about having a sexual relationship with a 42 year old man.
After thanking jurors for attending the trial, Brackett launched into his closing argument, which included accusations that detectives and prosecutors lied and manipulated evidence.
Brackett said he would “clear up lies” by Sturgill during his argument.
Repeatedly, Brackett said the jurors hadn’t seen all the evidence in the case, nor had they heard the whole truth. Brackett argued several of his witnesses weren’t allowed to testify and he was not allowed to put forth a full defense.
“Something’s going on,” he said.
At one point, Brackett pointed at Twin Falls Police Detective Eric Barzee and accused him of manipulating evidence and changing his testimony throughout the trial.
After Brackett finished, Sturgill began her final closing argument by saying the gist of what Brackett was arguing was that there was a statewide conspiracy against him, including the judge, Ada and Twin Falls counties, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Twin Falls Police Department.
“The only thing I can say is what arrogance to believe that all these people want to persecute Robert Brackett,” she said.
Sturgill explained that the jury does not get to see everything involved in a case, including things that are irrelevant and hearsay - statements made outside of court.
“Somehow there’s a huge conspiracy against this very insignificant man,” she said, responding to Brackett’s argument.
Brackett repeatedly objected during Sturgill’s argument and said she was assuming things that aren’t in evidence.Crabtree overruled the objections and said that the jury should rely on their own memories of what the evidence in the case was.
“Robert Brackett committed these crimes and the state has proved it beyond a reasonable doubt,” Sturgill said, completing her final argument.