MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Prominent Mid-South businessman Mark Giannini was found not guilty on all charges Friday. Giannini was on trial for three counts of aggravated rape.
Closing arguments were held Friday in the rape trial of Mark Giannini, following a week long trial of shocking testimony and statements.
The jury started deliberating at 9 a.m. At one point the jury asked two questions:
- What is the legal definition of consent?
- Can we move forward without a unanimous decision of aggravated rape?
The defense, prosecution, and judge chose not to answer those questions--stating the jury had enough information to decide a verdict. The judge said he did not want an answer to those question to sway the jury's decision.
Eventually the jury of nine women and three men returned not guilty verdicts on all three counts of aggravated rape.
When the judge read the verdict, the victim could be heard screaming and crying in the courtroom.
Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich released the following statement about the verdict:
Giannini was a successful Eads businessman. His friend introduced him to a Waffle House waitress and mother of five who said she wanted extra work as a housekeeper.
That waitress said she went to Giannini's house and learned she was not wanted as a housekeeper. Instead, she said Giannini violently raped her as she begged for him to stop.
"I was crying. I wanted for him to stop," the victim testified.
She said she was knocked unconscious at some point during the rape.
Giannini's former housekeeper testified that she woke the victim up and drove her home.
"She was in and out of sleeping or crying," the former housekeeper testified.
The victim was later taken to the hospital. Nurses at the hospital testified that the woman appeared emotionally and physically injured.
"She had a bruise to her chest, her arm, her cheek was red," nurse Kristine Gable said.
Giannini's defense attorney pushed back against the accusations by saying the sex between Giannini and the victim was consensual. He said she was a young woman willing to lie about rape so she wouldn't be in violation of her supervised release from federal court.
"The problem is she wasn't allowed to drink excessively and she was .227 alcohol content," attorney Steve Farese said.
Farese also said the woman lied about the rape even happening.
"We've all been lied to. There's always a reason behind the lie," attorney Steve Farese said during closing arguments. "People can be really good at lying. Women can be especially good at it, because they are the weaker sex."
In addition to saying the woman lied about being raped, Farese said the woman knew she was going to Giannini's house to have sex.
"They [prosecutors] didn't want you to see the top, because it was a halter top. It was a sexy top. It was an contraption. She knew where she was going. She knew what she was doing," Farese said.
Deborah Clubb with the Memphis Area Woman's Council said the way a woman dresses in no way means she is willing to have sex or be raped.
Farese said there was no physical evidence to prove Giannini raped the victim.
"The fact of the matter is you have no idea whether [accuser] was raped or not," Farese said.
The prosecution remained steadfast in their arguments.
"Somebody doesn't have to fight off somebody to say no. Somebody cannot want to be somewhere, cannot have to endure an attack," prosecutor Neal Oldham said.
Giannini is not finished seeing the inside of a courtroom. Shelby County District Attorney's Office said Giannini still has two pending rape cases, drug cases, and a case where he's accused of bribing a witness.