A tattoo declaring his innocence did little to stop a Brooklyn jury from convicting a man for a 2012 sexual assault in Brighton Beach.
Giorgi Shevardenidze, 27, was found guilty of attacking a woman at the Brighton Beach subway station on July 28, 2012, with prosecutors alleging he grabbed his victim around the neck and mouth from behind, and choked, smothered and groped her.
Before his trial, though, he sought to clear his name with some permanent ink. He appeared in court with a tattoo of a bell on his right hand, with the word’s “I am not guilty” beneath it.
Jurors didn’t take the hint, finding him guilty of aggravated sexual assault after approximately four hours of deliberations. The crime carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors said Shevardenidze targeted his 22-year-old victim, riding eight stops past his destination to follow her. But Shevardenidze’s lawyers said it was all just a big misunderstanding. Shevardenidze was drunk, took a stumble, and landed on a butt, they argued.
The Daily News reports:
“He targeted this young lady,” prosecutor Olatokunbo Olaniyan told jurors during closing arguments. “He saw that blond hair, he saw that dress and he saw a crime of opportunity.”
Taking the stand Monday, the defendant contended he was bombed after a night of heavy drinking and that he “lost my balance and… accidentally put a hand on her butt.”
He said he got off at that stop to buy weed.
His lawyers argued the woman suffered no injuries and “overreacted” to an innocent encounter.
The New York Post adds that Shevardenidze was arrested on May 19, charged with misdemeanor assault for punching and biting a man in Midwood.