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Jurors began deliberations Wednesday in the trial of Tony Cercy, a Casper businessman charged with sexually assaulting a woman at his Alcova lake house last summer.

Jurors were led from the Natrona County District courtroom just after noon to begin deliberations. As of press time, they had not reached a verdict.

Before deliberations started, jurors listened as attorneys in the case made their closing arguments. Each side tried to cast opposing witnesses as unreliable.

Cercy faces one count each of first-, second- and third-degree sexual assault. He took the stand Tuesday and maintained the incident never occurred.

The alleged victim in the case testified last week that she woke June 25 on a couch in Cercy’s home to him performing oral sex on her.

During his closing statement, District Attorney Mike Blonigen asked the jury to convict Cercy. Blonigen said the woman’s testimony was credible, in contrast to Cercy’s, which he depicted as untruthful.

Blonigen recounted Cercy’s denial as, “I absolutely didn’t,” while the prosecutor nodded his head like a marionette, implying Cercy’s body language had told a different story than the accused man’s words.

Defense attorney Jeff Pagliuca argued the woman’s story was fabricated and said there was no evidence to corroborate it. It is likely the alleged victim fabricated the story of assault following a fight with her then-boyfriend and was unable to take it back once her family heard, the defense attorney told jurors.

“The story makes no sense,” Pagliuca said repeatedly.

The woman’s story changed multiple times following the alleged assault, Pagliuca argued, and he said her testimony was therefore unreliable.

Pagliuca also called cell phone evidence produced by the prosecution “smoke and mirrors.” He argued multiple witnesses have testified they received fewer calls than the prosecution’s forensic records indicate the woman made.

“What is the state’s evidence in this case?” the defense attorney asked.

“It is a story. It is mere words,” he said, answering his own question with a reference to an opening statement made by fellow defense attorney Pamela Mackey.

Blonigen, with passion in his voice and gesticulations, said the defense was relying on myths that an expert witness, Sheri Vanino, dispelled.

“The defendant’s attempt to exploit every rape myth that exists — that Dr. Vanino talked about — is not evidence,” Blonigen said.

The case began with jury selection Feb. 12 and featured testimony from both the alleged victim and Cercy. Others witnesses included people who were at Cercy’s house within hours of the alleged assault, family members and a team of people who reconstructed the alleged assault on behalf of the defense.

The trial was originally set to conclude Tuesday.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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