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Land acquitted of rape, convicted of battery, other charges in Fayetteville trial

by Ron Wood | July 21, 2021 at 7:15 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- A Washington County jury acquitted a man of rape Tuesday but convicted him of slashing his estranged wife's face from her ear to mouth, beating her, threatening to kill her and keeping her captive for several hours.

Levi Cody Land, 40, was sentenced to a total of 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Land was charged with rape, battery in the first degree, false imprisonment and terroristic threatening. If convicted of rape, the most serious charge, Land faced 10 to 40 years or life in prison.

The jury recommended 10 years on the battery charge, three years on the false imprisonment and one year on the terroristic threatening. The jury recommended none of the sentences run consecutively. Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay agreed with the recommendation and sentenced Land to 10 years, with the other sentences to run concurrently.

"We are disappointed with the outcome and believe the defendant deserved a conviction on all charges with a far higher sentence, but we can appreciate that the jury had a hard decision to make and that they ultimately did what they believed was right," said Sara Swearengin, deputy prosecutor.

Prosecutors said Land and his wife were having marital problems when he went to her home in Fayetteville on Oct. 29, 2019, and put a pocket knife to the woman's throat and sexually assaulted her before slashing her face.

Land didn't contest the battery charge but adamantly denied the rape allegation.

"I am so sorry for what I have done, but I have never, ever raped my wife," Land told jurors when he took the witness stand in his own defense.

Land contended the couple had consensual sex, then got into an argument that escalated quickly.

"She hit me and I lost it," Land told the jury. "I was just watching it happen."

Land maintained the attack lasted only a couple of minutes.

The woman claimed Land entered the house and immediately attacked her, beating, slapping, kicking, choking and threatening her life for several hours before he raped her, cut her face with a knife and left. Land later posted a picture of the woman, sitting on the floor bleeding, on social media.

"He wanted to hurt her, and he did it in every way," Swearengin told jurors.

Joshua Meister, Land's attorney, told jurors Land didn't contest the battery charge for slashing the woman's face, but Meister said the sex was consensual and happened before a fight that "went too far."

He told jurors a rape didn't occur, and Land didn't terrorize or imprison his wife.

"It's not what could have happened. It's not what might have happened," Meister told jurors. "They have the burden of proving that it did happen."

Print Headline: Land avoids rape conviction

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