Blind Teen Repeats Testimony That Pair Raped Her At Harundale

First Man Convicted, Second Tried This Week

September 19, 1990|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

The second of two men accused of raping a 16-year-old blind girl went on trial yesterday in county Circuit Court.

For the second time in a week, the girl testified that she had become acquainted with Philip Michael Saunders, 19, through a telephone "party line" and invited him to come to her Harundale home for a visit on the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day 1990.

And, once again, the girl said Saunders and his friend, Byron Charles Morrow, drove her to the parking lot of the Harundale Mall where they took turns raping her in Morrow's car.

Morrow's two-day trial ended last Wednesday with a jury of 12 women convicting the 25-year-old Baltimore man of first-degree rape but acquitting him of kidnapping. He faces a maximum of life in prison at his sentencing, set for Nov. 19.

The girl's testimony yesterday, spanning 90 minutes, was less emotional but essentially identical in content to her testimony last week during Morrow's trial. She said the men came to her house and she got into Morrow's car because it had begun to rain. Saunders then reclined the seat and began to fondle her breasts.

She said the men ignored her warnings that she was not allowed to leave without her mother's permission and drove to the nearby mall parking lot, where Saunders raped her in the front seat of the car. She said she complied with Saunders' order that she get into the back seat, and Morrow raped her before Saunders raped her again.

She said the men then drove her home. After initially attempting to cover up the incident, she reported the rape two days later to a school guidance counselor and to her mother three days later, she said.

In his trial, Morrow admitted the men took turns having sex with the girl, but he insisted the girl was a willing participant. Morrow's defense attorney James D. Barton, aggressively painted the girl as a liar and an affection-starved teen-ager who was, at least for a day, a nymphomaniac.

In his opening statements yesterday, Saunders' lawyer, Gary Christopher, also promised a defense based on the girl's consent to the sex acts.

But, compared to Barton, Christopher took a less sensationalistic tact with the jury of nine men and three women. Christopher said the victim is a "strange young girl, a sad young girl, troubled." Pointing to the girl's involvement with what he called "disembodied" personalities on telephone party lines, Christopher added, "Certainly it's strange the way she deals with people."

The defense attorney presented his client as a "terrified young man" wrongly accused of the crime. Christopher said Saunders, of Baltimore, was "intrigued" by the girl's romantic advances on the phone. Of the sexual encounter, Christopher said, "He will tell you it was more her idea than his and he was never more surprised in his life."

Saunders is expected to take the stand when the trial resumes today.

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