Julie Lensing saw the story, "Serial rapist targets escorts, assaults them at knife-point" and felt sick to her stomach.
She recognized the suspect, Kenyatta Buckles, because she had been a juror when he was on trial in an earlier rape. Lensing was convinced he was guilty. Other jurors disagreed and eventually acquitted him.
"I wish we could have found him guilty," she said.
It wasn't the first time Buckles, 24, had avoided prison.
During the past five years, Buckles has been convicted of two felonies and charged with several others. He admitted to violating his probation three times, and warrants had been issued for his arrest at least 10 times. He also had numerous charges, such as aggravated robbery and fleeing a peace officer, dismissed as part of acquittals and plea deals.
Buckles was charged on March 21 with committing multiple sexual assaults over the last four months. He is accused of targeting sex workers he had contacted online and raping them at knife point. The charges note that Buckles was well known to police because since late last year he has been suspected in "a series of rapes and robberies that occurred within blocks" of where the women in the criminal complaints were sexually assaulted and robbed in a car just north of Stevens Square Park near the Whittier neighborhood.
Buckles was already under high-risk supervision by Hennepin County authorities because of his criminal history. He was required to check in with a probation officer at least once a month. From November 2018 to March, when Buckles was accused of raping several women, he had been complying with his probation requirements, according to a county spokesman.
About one in three offenders on high-risk supervision reoffended within a year in 2016, meaning they were convicted of another crime, including misdemeanor offenses, according to data provided by the county.
"Probation officers don't supervise 24/7," said Catherine Johnson, the county's Community Corrections and Rehabilitation Department director. "It's just not feasible for us to do that. It's realistically not possible for us to prevent everything."
Buckles was 19 when he was charged with his first felonies in Anoka County in November 2013. He was driving with two other men in Blaine one night when three times they jumped out of their car, wielded a shotgun to rob someone and then sped off, according to the criminal complaint. Two of the men said they were beaten.
All three were charged and convicted of multiple counts of first-degree aggravated robbery. As part of a plea deal Buckles accepted in April 2014, one of the robbery charges was dismissed. A judge gave him time already served in jail, and hung a 10-year prison sentence over his head. If he reoffended or violated his probation, he could be sent back to prison.
Buckles was charged with loitering with intent to sell drugs and trespassing that year. As part of a plea deal, the drug charge was dropped and he was given three days on a work crew.
The next year he was charged with theft for taking more than $500 in merchandise from the downtown Minneapolis Macy's. He pleaded guilty and was given credit for time already served in jail.
In December 2016, Buckles was charged with raping a University of Minnesota student. The student had been out drinking with a friend that night before she went back to her apartment. Her boyfriend had invited a group of friends over — including Buckles, whom she had never met before.
During the trial in June 2017, the woman testified that after more drinks she went to sleep on her bed with her friend sleeping next to her. She awoke to Buckles raping her. She screamed. Buckles grabbed a used condom on the floor and fled from the apartment. Police later found him hiding atop the roof of a nearby bar.
Buckles testified that the sex was consensual. He said an hour or so after the woman went to sleep, his group decided to leave. But he went back to the apartment to get his glasses, he told the jury. When he got inside, the woman was there and the two started kissing and had sex, he said. He testified that she was awake, alert and consented.
During her closing argument, Buckles' attorney theorized that the woman thought she was actually having sex with her boyfriend.
Under Minnesota law, the prosecution had to show that Buckles knew the woman was too incapacitated to consent to sex.
Inside the jury room, Lensing said other jurors were eager to get home after a long trial. Even though they felt the woman was too drunk to know what was going on, they sided with the defense's theory of the case.
"People thought she couldn't differentiate whether she thought she was with her boyfriend," Lensing said.
Buckles was acquitted and freed. No other juror agreed to be interviewed after the verdict.
By September 2018, Buckles also had been charged with and acquitted of simple robbery, and was facing an open charge for vehicle tampering, another violation of his probation.
At a hearing that month, Buckles appeared before Anoka County Judge James Cunningham. The judge gave him credit for time already served in jail.
According to a court transcript, county prosecutors never recommended that the judge revoke Buckles' probation and send him to prison.
The judge has not responded to a request for comment.
It would be less than two months before Buckles was accused of striking again, the first of three assaults that resulted in the most recent charges. He remains jailed in lieu of $750,000 bail.
Johnson, the director of Hennepin County's Community Corrections Department, said her office conducted a review of Buckles' case and found that her probation agents acted properly.
"I think we used the tools available to us appropriately," Johnson said. "It doesn't change the fact that we wish this wasn't how it ended."