Jury acquits Mason County man of CSC

April 18, 2023

Jury acquits Mason County man of CSC

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

LUDINGTON — A jury acquitted a 37-year-old Mason County man charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) — force or coercion April 14.

Deandre Cavelle Winston was found not guilty following less than three hours of deliberation, said defense attorney Horia Razvan Neagos.

Winston was facing up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the crime.

The charges stem from a March 24, 2019 incident in the City of Ludington. The victim in the case testified that she and Winston had “a brief encounter at a bar, but then she doesn’t remember anything,” said Neagos, who was his court-appointed counsel. “They did have intercourse.

“The big reason why the acquittal occurred is there was no evidence to ever put them together at the location where this supposedly occurred, which was another home owned by another individual. The only evidence the jury heard was there was a brief encounter at a bar, and that’s it, because she doesn’t remember anything else. There was some conflicting DNA evidence without any dates, time or other scientific significance.”

Neagos said when he questioned the victim, she said that she and Winston had a previous sexual encounter. 

“There was no scientific evidence to show she was drugged.” She testified that she estimated to have consumed three or four drinks, said Neagos.

“She was bar hopping with an old time friend and ended up at the Tiki; had a few drinks around 1 o’clock; the defendant approached her at the bar and he didn’t buy her any drinks and didn’t give her anything; she quickly walked away basically because she now has a different boyfriend and didn’t want to be around him; and then she said ‘I don’t remember anything else until I woke up the next morning at this other guy’s house. Then later on, she went to the hospital.”

“In my closing argument, it was the most unusual and unlikely-to-ever-happen-again case where I did two things repeatedly — I urged the jury to forget everything I said in the open statement and I told them to believe every word that every prosecution witness has said, including the victim. That’s how the trial unfolded.

“Everyone started the case believing we’d end up in Alaska and instead we ended up in Hawaii. I was shocked by the lack of evidence.”

Neagos, who is based in Muskegon, said he was the fourth attorney appointed to the case.

A phone message left with Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Lauren Kreinbrink was not returned.

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