Defense to begin calling witnesses in rape trial

March 20, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Lonnie Layton Price doesn't dispute that he had sexual relations with a Westminster woman on a dark, deserted road last fall.

What he does dispute is that he raped her.

Tomorrow, his attorneys are expected to present witnesses who will attempt to show that the woman consented to sex, casting doubt on her claim that she was raped .

For two days, prosecutors have contended at Mr. Price's trial on rape and kidnapping charges in Carroll Circuit Court that Mr. Price attacked the woman, threw her to the ground and raped her at the side of the road Sept. 15.

The woman testified for two hours Thursday, tearfully telling her story to the Carroll jury of six men and six women. The prosecution rested late Friday after presenting five witnesses.

Other prosecution witnesses -- the woman's husband, two state troopers and an investigator for the county's child abuse and sexual assault unit -- buttressed the woman's story.

No physical evidence was found, and the woman -- who reported the alleged rape more than two weeks after she said it occurred -- never underwent a physical examination for confirmation. The woman said she waited to report the rape because she "felt like a scared little girl."

When the trial opened Thursday, Mr. Price's lawyers said they would try to prove that the sexual encounter between their client and the woman was a mutually accepted one-night stand.

"This case is a nightmare, a nightmare for Mr. Price," Carroll Public Defender Barbara Kreinar told the trial jury. "We're going to ask you to end this nightmare."

The nightmare got worse, Ms. Kreinar noted, when Mr. Price was beaten by the woman's husband on Oct. 3, the day he learned of the rape accusations. The defense attorneys tried to chip away at the woman's story in their cross-examination of the state's key witnesses.

On Friday, Ruth Ann Arty, the child abuse and sexual assault investigator, admitted that she had lied to Mr. Price during two interviews before he was charged in the rape.

Ms. Arty questioned Mr. Price at least twice under the guise of investigating the beating. But she actually was questioning him as a rape suspect, she admitted under questioning from Assistant Public Defender Brian Green.

Mr. Price was indicted by a county grand jury in December on charges of second- and fourth-degree rape, assault with intent to rape and kidnapping. He has been in the Carroll County Detention Center since his arrest in January.

In pretrial motions, defense attorneys had called Ms. Arty's tactics "particularly obnoxious."

"A man is beaten and a state official uses this misfortune to obtain statements from him to present against him at a criminal trial," the attorneys said in one motion.

"This action offends every notion of a civilized system of justice," the motion says.

The trial is to resume tomorrow at noon in Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.'s courtroom.

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