Woman Recounts Rape As Second Lyba Trial Begins

Pasadena Man's Conviction In 1987 Case Was Overturned

January 10, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

To Stanley Lyba, a second trial in the 1987 rape of an 18-year-old woman in a wooded area in Severna Park means a second chance for an acquittal. To the victim, a second trial means enduring another appearance on the witness stand.

Lyba, who was granted a new trial after his February 1989 conviction was overturned last year, wore a black suit and, occasionally taking notes, appeared poised as his retrial began yesterday in county Circuit Court. The dark circles under the victim's eyes, on the other hand, gave her the look of a woman who had lost a lot of sleep contemplating her return to the courtroom.

When it came time to describe the rape, the woman suddenly began crying. "You want me to tell you everything?" she asked prosecutor Cynthia M. Ferris.

"You have to describe the acts specifically," Ferris said, which prompted the woman to gasp and say, "Oh no!"

Then she recalled coming face to face with her attacker nine months later at a state park.

"I froze," she said, describing her reaction to emerging from a restroom at Patapsco State Park in Howard County in June 1988 to see a man she believed was her rapist. "We made eye contact, and it was very intentional and threatening. There was recognition. I recognized him, and he recognized me."

After spending about 90minutes on the stand, the woman left the courtroom. In the hall she sat on the floor, her face buried in her arms, sobbing loudly while her boyfriend tried to comfort her.

Lyba, 38, of Pasadena, spent about two years behind bars before being released on $50,000 bond afterhis conviction was overturned last January, said his lawyer, Alan R.Friedman. The appeals court ruled the judge in the first trial improperly limited cross-examination of the victim.

Lyba is charged with first-degree rape and first-degree and third-degree sexual offensesin the Sept. 12, 1987, incident in a wooded area near Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.

The victim testified yesterday she was searching for her puppy shortly after sundown near her Severna Park home when aman approached her, held an object he said was a gun to the back of her head and ordered her into the woods.

There, the woman, testified, the man fondled her, performed oral sex on her, forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her. "I was scared that he was going to kill me and I was horrified, horrified," said the woman, now 22 and living in Jacksonville, Fla.

She said her attacker wore a blue plaid shirt and smelled of peppermint. In her opening statement tothe jury of nine men and three women, Ferris said witnesses would testify Lyba had been wearing a similar shirt while drinking peppermintschnapps at a nearby bar before the attack.

In his opening statement, Friedman noted that tests of evidence collected from the woman and the rape scene showed no link to evidence collected from Lyba or from a search of his home after his arrest. And Friedman, the districtpublic defender, told the jury the case would hinge on the victim's memory because of the lack of physical evidence and eyewitnesses.

To that end, Friedman said he will employ the unusual tactic of calling to the stand a forensic psychologist who will testify as an experton memory and eyewitness identifications. When it was his turn to question the woman yesterday, Friedman got the woman to agree that she had made a deliberate effort to forget the incident.

Friedman alsoquestioned the woman on whether she had told police her attacker mayhave had a beard and on how good a look she got at her rapist. The woman said she got a look at the man's face as he approached under a light from a nearby building. But she admitted that once in the woods she saw only a "flash" of his face and, while being raped, she lookedat his hands; she said she was afraid if she looked at his face he would have killed her because she would be able to identify him.

The Court of Appeals ordered the new trial because county Circuit JudgeEugene M. Lerner, who presided over the first trial, did not allow Lyba's lawyer to ask the victim whether she had used drugs on the day of the attack or alcohol the day she saw her alleged assailant at thepark.

The closest Friedman came to those issues yesterday was when he asked the woman if her boyfriend and another friend in the park had smoked marijuana in her presence. She said they had.

The trialis scheduled to continue today before Judge Raymond G. Thieme.

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