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Defendant takes stand in rape trial; jury hears recorded telephone call

Jul 9, 2015 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The defendant took the stand Thursday in Lander District Court on the third day of a rape trial. He said he did have sex with the alleged victim, his cousin, but that she initiated the encounter.

In a case with only two witnesses to the events in question, the jury will have to decide whether to believe the defendant or the alleged victim.

The defendant was named in court records, and the alleged victim was identified in court, but it is Ranger policy not to publish information that could tend to identify victims of sexual assault incest.

The events began early in the morning on Aug. 3. The defendant had dropped a friend off at home, and the woman was riding in his Jeep in the front passenger seat, he said in court.

Investigators' version of events agree with the defendant's to this point, but then they diverge.

The alleged victim started touching him intimately, he said, and she performed a sexual act on him while they drove. He turned east on East Monroe Avenue and stopped in a secluded spot.

"It was out of the way so we could have sex," he said.

He got out, walked around the vehicle to the passenger side.

"She wanted to have sex, so I leaned over her on the seat," the defendant said.

The woman then insulted him, he said.

"She said something ... made me feel stupid. I said something mean," the defendant said.

The woman got out of the car, pulled her pants up, and walked away. The defendant drove after her and tried to convince her to get in the Jeep, but she did not, he said.

So he drove back to a nearby cousin's house, where they both had been earlier in the night.

A friend there told him the woman had sent a text to her son saying the defendant raped her, the defendant said.

"I was like no way, no way, this is unreal," he said.

According to investigators, the defendant pulled over on East Monroe Avenue and forced the alleged victim to have sex with him. During the assault, however, he slipped and she was able to run away, court documents state.

Hoping to undermine the alleged victim's story, the defense attacked the credibility of her son, who corroborated part of her story in testimony on July 8.

The woman's son appeared on the stand Thursday wearing shackles and an orange outfit, showing that he was in custody at the Fremont County Detention Center.

Defense attorney Devon Petersen asked the young man if he had ever talked with his mother to coordinate his testimony with hers, and the witness said no.

Then Petersen played a recorded phone call between the son and the alleged victim the evening of July 7, after she had testified but before he did. The county jail records all inmate phone calls.

She is not heard telling her son what to say, but she does detail her own testimony. They also at times disagree on facts of what happened on Aug. 3 and the evening of Aug. 2.

The parties agree that the alleged victim and the defendant talked at a friend's house on Aug. 2. During the call, the alleged victim told her son she testified that they drove to the friend's house because the friend owed the son money.

"Owed me money?" the son said.

He thought they went to the friend's house to look for a pickup truck she had lent out.

"You're telling me you said something else, you're saying something different now," the son said at another point.

During the defendant's testimony, Petersen tried to head off attacks on his client's credibility by having the man explain an apparent lie.

After he left the alleged victim walking along the side of East Monroe and went to the nearby friend's house, the defendant did not tell his friends he had sex with his cousin, the alleged victim.

The defendant told them they parted ways earlier in the night when he was dropping his friend off.

"I didn't want to tell them what we were engaging in" because the woman is his cousin, the defendant said.

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2017-10-22

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