Thursday, November 13, 2008

Defense Atttorney For Alleged Stranger Rapist Claims Woman Is A Coldblooded Liar

From The Mercury: Pottstown, PA:

"He [Akil Isiah Headen] grabs her around the throat and throws her on the bed. That's when the nightmare begins. She's doing whatever he's telling her to do because she wants to live to see tomorrow," Cauffman told the jury.

But defense lawyer V. Erik Petersen implied the woman is lying.

"That's a horrible story. Not a word of it is true," Petersen said during his opening remarks to the jury. "It was consensual sex. It was not rape."

Petersen alleged the woman got angry at Headen when he called her by his girlfriend's name as they had consensual sex and that in revenge the woman claimed she was raped.

"This is the end result of that woman's rage. This is not rape. This is a girl who was mad," Petersen argued.

Notably, there is no indication that the defense attorney had a shred of credible evidence to back up the accusation that this woman is the only one guilty of committing a crime. This defense seems to be based on nothing more than the common bigotry against all women who report rape. That makes it credibly meaningless.

For all those who support personal attacks against the alleged rape victim in acquaintance rape cases this should send chills down your spine. Once an evidence-free strategy starts working in one type of case and is accepted as valid there, smart defense attorneys are going to start using that strategy in more and more types of cases. Here it is an alleged stranger rape.

If this strategy works at falsely injecting reasonable doubt in what are considered more clear cut rape cases, this strategy soon won't be limited to rape cases especially as forensic evidence use expands to property crimes because of an advance in detecting identifying DNA called touch DNA.

If the "who" cannot be disputed then the reality of the underlying crime will be the weakest point of the case because it depends on victim and witness testimony. Those who are robbed and file an insurance claim will be painted as guilty of insurance fraud.

For some jurors the fact that some women have lied about having been raped means that this case must be judged as if this woman lied -- even if there is no actual evidence that she lied. If this logic works then because some people commit insurance fraud any mention by the defense of an insurance claim should inject reasonable doubt.

As many men who defend this strategy in acquaintance rape cases keep saying when defending unsubstantiated and baseless personal attacks of this type against rape victims, defense attorneys don't have the burden of proof. Raising doubts is the defense attorney's job so there is nothing wrong with this strategy. I doubt they will feel so good about this strategy if it starts getting used against men whenever they are crime victims.

The woman in this case reported that Headen knew her first name so it's likely that she was carefully stalked. If the defendant chooses to testify he could know more about her than we assume a stranger would be able to learn after being arrested in order to concoct this type of defense.

The story about this case doesn't note whether there was any DNA evidence detectable after the defendant allegedly forced the woman to wash in order to remove the evidence. The defendant also allegedly took the woman's sheets with him for the same reason.

If no DNA evidence remained then the "it was consensual" defense seems to have been chosen because the defendant's distinctive tattoos were described correctly by the woman. Maybe the idea is to make the jury assume that the only way the woman could be sure of her ID is if she weren't IDing a stranger as she claimed.

What the jury likely doesn't know is that the defendant served time for a 2005 attack on an ex-girlfriend which included a sexual assault. Unfortunately, the sexual assault portion of the charges were dropped as part of a plea deal. With the details given in this story about that previous crime, the sentence was little more than a bad joke or Headen wouldn't have been released before the Oct. 2007 alleged rape. In both this current case and the previous one Headen allegedly threatened murder.

When the woman called the police they found the door to her apartment shattered. I imagine that the defense attorney will try to explain away that evidence.

I hope that the jury can see beyond the defense narrative in order to evaluate this case based on the actual evidence in this case.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:12 AM   0 comments links to this post


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