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Opening arguments contentious in rape case

 

September 12, 2017



PORTALES — Jurors were met with contentious opening arguments on the first day of the trial of a Portales man accused of rape.

Roy Brown, 29, faces multiple charges, including two counts of criminal sexual penetration resulting in great bodily harm.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover started by outlining June 15, 2016, a day which he said ended with Brown forcibly entering a woman’s home south of Portales and sexually assaulting her as she slept.

Brown’s attorney, Craig Acorn, told jurors the victim described her attacker as a white male — his client is black — and also alleged physical evidence connected to the attack has been contaminated.

After being physically attacked, Stover alleged the victim managed to distract Brown and escape her home, reaching a neighbor and contacting the police. Upon arrival, he said, police found Brown covered in scratches, intoxicated and combative.

“(Brown) says (to officers), ‘If you’re going to put your hands on me, we’re gonna fight. I’m not going with you.’ So much so — he won’t submit to the authority of the officers — that finally this deputy has to tase him,” Stover said.

After sexual assault tests were given Brown and the victim, they were sent to the New Mexico State Crime Lab, which found DNA from Brown and one other person (a consensual partner) on the victim and DNA from the victim on Brown, according to Stover.

Stover recalled that earlier in the day — captured on camera — Brown went to a liquor store to buy a bottle of vodka.

That bottle, according to Stover, would later be used by Brown to assault the victim, both physically and sexually.

The event in question has left a lasting effect on the victim, Stover told the jury.

“Not only was she physically violated, but her home — the place in the world where you’re supposed to feel most secure and most safe — was completely gone. You’re going to hear about the mental anguish that she suffered and continues to suffer to this day, as the result of the attack at the hands of the defendant.”

But Acorn, Brown’s attorney, said his client — who he said was next door to the victim with a friend — was never belligerent to authorities, offering to get his identification. Acorn alleged that police lapel cam footage would support this claim.

Acorn called into question both the victim’s description of her attacker as a white male and the moment she claimed she identified him.

“She says, ‘I was running away and briefly glanced over my shoulder. Just then, a car came by in the road.’ This is in the boondocks, on the outskirts of Portales. There aren’t many cars going by out there. That car supposedly illuminated the person’s face for just a moment while she glanced over her shoulder while she’s running the other way,” Acorn told jurors.

In addition, Acorn said the sexual assault test was mishandled by the state crime lab, putting “the evidence at risk of being contaminated, and that’s what happened.”

He added that shortly after the incident, the victim — in the U.S. illegally — applied for a U-Visa, which she could use to stay in the country and bring family members into the country if she is proven to be the victim of a crime.

“The reason I bring that up, there’s an incentive for (the victim) to tell this story — so she can get a U-Visa,” he said, ending by urging the jury to consider, over the next four days, whether they can believe testimony against his client beyond a reasonable doubt.

Judge Donna Mowrer told jurors the trial is expected to last through Friday.

 

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