Trial begins for 2008 murder, rape (Jan. 24, 2012)
Detailed interview played on day 2 of murder trial (Jan. 25, 2012)
Rabon testifies in murder case (Jan. 30, 2012)
Closing arguements given in murder trial (Jan. 31, 2012)
UPDATE (Jan. 31, 8:30 p.m): After about four hours of deliberation, the jury found Travis Santell Rabon guilty on 10 of the 12 counts he faced, including felony murder, malice murder. Rabon was found not guilty of rape and aggravated assault with intent to rape against the deceased victim. He was found guilty of all counts against the surviving victim, which were rape, two counts of aggravated assault, kidnapping, sodomy, and battery.
Due to the late hour, Rockdale County Superior Court Judge David Irwin set sentencing for a date in the near future yet to be determined. Rabon faces a minimum sentence of life and a possible sentence of life without parole.
District Attorney Richard Read said, “I’m happy to see we were able to get justice in this case."
He said the deceased victim's family members "are satisfied justice has been done and look forward to make their opinions known at sentencing."
Defense attorney Michael Waldrop said, "We tried a very hard case. It was very difficult to accept the jury found him guilty of those charges beyond a reasonable doubt."
He said as the verdict was being read, his client "realized he would be spending the vast majority of the rest of his life in prison. He is devastated as well."
There were no outbursts in the audience during the verdict reading, Waldrop said. "Both families have been very supportive of their sides in the last two weeks. Both families have operated with dignity in the last two weeks."
(Jan. 31, 3:13 p.m.) The jury began deliberations Tuesday after more than four hours of closing arguments in the trial of Travis Santell Rabon for charges including murder, rape and aggravated sodomy, stemming back to a Dec. 29, 2008 incident.
Michael Waldrop, defense attorney for Rabon, took the floor first, followed by Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read, in closing arguments of the trial that began on Jan. 23.
Waldrop began by telling the jury that the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office screwed up by not getting to the body of the victim of Keira Rochell Avant in time at the Lake St. James Apartments.
"Why did (the deputy) say ‘Oh s--t?' Because he realized he had screwed up. He had left the window of opportunity for Kiera to be resuscitated close on his watch." Waldrop told the jury.
After arguing that authorities should have responded quicker to the situation, Waldrop then told the jury how the science didn't back the acquisitions of how Rabon murdered Avon.
Waldrop discussed some of the DNA test results and then went on to the dispute about Avant's neck size and how the rope would have been placed around her neck.
He then reviewed the testimony of several witnesses, pointing out discrepancies in the testimonies of witnesses, including the two friends who were waiting for Avant in the parking lot of the Lake St. James Apartments.
Waldrop then dissected the testimony of the other surviving rape victim in the case, claiming she and Avant were there to rob Rabon.
Before resting, Waldrop went over each of the 11 charges, trying to tell jurors why each and everyone was not applicable to Rabon.
District Attorney Richard Read started his closing argument by replaying a portion of Rabon's 2008 interview with RCSO investigators.
The video showed Rabon saying that Avant said she didn't want to have sex anymore, but he kept going, using a rope to keep her still.
He added, "I hope she ain't dead. God forgive me."
Following the video, Read told the jury it seems like often people are waiting for other people to do something but that today the jury can be that somebody who does something.
"Today is a special day, because it is a day of justice," said Read.
He continued, saying that while some of the witness testimony may have been pointed out as lies, there were consistencies throughout. He also told the jury that the person who lied five times during one interview was Rabon.
One witness that didn't lie was the surviving victim, said Read.
"She will forever carry on her back and shoulders the marks of the defendant," he said. "She will forever carry within her that day."
The district attorney saved his most dramatic moment for the end, when he displayed a photo of Avant next to a large count-down alarm clock.
He started the clock, describing to the jury what Avant would have been going through during the three minutes it took to reach brain damage.
In the first 30 seconds she would have realized that she could not breathe. After the first 30 seconds she would then pass out.
"The last memory she would ever have is that of the person who was sexually assaulting her."
As the three minutes wound down, Read explained how the blood built up in her head, her heart stopped and she went brain dead.
The jury went into deliberation around 3 p.m.