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Jurors enter deliberation in Bayfield child sex assault case

Authorities say Rodney Keller, of Pagosa Springs, assaulted girl in 2018

Jurors began deliberating Tuesday afternoon but did not come to a decision by the end of the day on whether a Pagosa Springs man is guilty of sexually assaulting a girl in Bayfield in 2018.

The trial for Rodney Keller, 54, began last week. Closing arguments finished about 11 a.m. Tuesday. The 12-person jury panel then entered deliberation and has no time limit to reach a verdict.

Jurors will return to deliberations Wednesday morning.

According to authorities, Keller was invited by a former girlfriend to play cards and have drinks at her female friend’s house in Bayfield on June 2, 2018.

At the end of the night, the owner of the house, and mother of the alleged victim, let Keller spend the night. Keller supposedly was living out of his car in Pagosa Springs.

The next morning, the child woke up before her mother and found Keller on the couch. Authorities said Keller spent the morning with the child and eventually sexually assaulted her.

The girl told her mother about the assault later in the day. Investigators with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office and Bayfield Marshal’s Office questioned Keller the same day, and he denied the allegations.

Keller’s trial in October 2019 resulted in a mistrial after jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict.

In closing arguments Tuesday, Keller’s defense attorney, Heather Little, said the girl made the story up because she felt isolated at her rural home and wanted more attention from her parents.

Little said the girl’s story has been inconsistent over time. Little also questioned DNA evidence used at trial.

“This is a story that took on a life of its own,” Little said. “Her statement spiraled into chaos all around her.”

Deputy District Attorney-Appellate Sean Murray, who is prosecuting the case, said it was unrealistic to expect a child to recount a sexual assault the same way every time, but key parts of her testimony have remained consistent.

“She’s told this story nine times with the same core elements each time,” Murray said.

Murray also said DNA evidence collected at the scene shows Keller as a match.

According to authorities, Keller was a registered sex offender. He was arrested in the Albertsons parking lot after being recognized on “America’s Most Wanted” for sexual assault on a child in 2008, a charge to which he pleaded guilty.


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