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Rape Charges Dropped Against Marine

October 19, 1985

Rape charges were dismissed Friday against a 30-year-old El Toro Marine Corps flight lieutenant after jurors at a second trial failed to agree on whether he had sexually assaulted a 61-year-old Mission Viejo woman, even though officers found him asleep in her bed.

William Bradley Keller, who has been suspended from flight duty since his arrest July 18, 1984, claimed that he had been drunk at a party near the woman's home and does not remember entering her apartment, which is about a half mile from where the party had been held. Keller had entered through an open balcony and climbed into bed while the woman was asleep.

Keller further claims that he thought he had made it home and had climbed in bed with his own wife.

He was tried in March, but a mistrial was declared after the jury deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of acquittal on the rape charge. The jury did acquit him of a sodomy charge. At the second trial, jurors deadlocked 7 to 5 in his favor.

Superior Court Judge Leonard H. McBride dismissed the case after the second trial "in the interests of justice."

Keller's attorney, Paul Meyer of Costa Mesa, said that jurors were critical of the Sheriff's Department investigation of the incident, adding that the panel was concerned because the woman had been interviewed in the bedroom where Keller had been found, and because the interview had not been tape-recorded. Also, Meyer said, jurors felt that an investigator had put words in her mouth about what had happened.

The woman is the mother of a sheriff's deputy.

Keller has been free on $20,000 bail.

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