Former Fresno Minister Awaits Jury

May 12, 2009 7:07:05 PM PDT
A former Fresno minister is now waiting for a jury's decision. Anthony Ireland has been on trial accused of raping four prostitutes at knife point. The defense called the sex consensual. They admit Ireland picked up prostitutes near Motel Drive. Investigators say Ireland held a butcher knife to the women's throats as he raped them.

Prosecutor Becky Gong showed how prostitutes remembered their encounter with Anthony Ireland. Gong said Ireland's victims feared the worst, "They think they are going to die. They think they are going to be sliced, stabbed and that they are going to die."

None of the victims were stabbed. The prosecutor said Ireland lured four women into his car and raped them at knife point. Investigators say he met the prostitutes in fall 2007 on or near Parkway Avenue, a part of Fresno notorious for prostitution. Ireland once served as a minister at International Crossroads Community Church in West Fresno.

His Defense Attorney Antonio Alvarez told the jury during closing arguments Ireland already wrote an apology to his victims because he was only trying to avoid paying for sex. Alvarez said, "It's an act of a remorseful person who knew he did something wrong ... Whether or not he intended to rape them ... that is a decision you will make as jurors." Alvarez also point out no physical evidence corroborates the victims' stories. Alvarez said, "They processed the vehicle both for finger prints and DNA. They found nothing of the victim's in there. They found the defendant's ... We would expect that. It's nothing out of the ordinary."

The jury went home Tuesday without reaching a verdict. They return Wednesday morning to continue deliberating. If Ireland is convicted on all charges, the 25-year-old could face life in prison.

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