All evidence is circumstantial, defense says in Prince George's rape case

August 10, 1994|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Sun Staff Writer

Alphonso Quinn has been falsely identified by police as the masked man who brandished a crossbow, broke into a Prince George's County home last summer and raped a woman repeatedly, his lawyer said yesterday.

"The state will rely on circumstantial evidence to attempt to demonstrate to you who did this," defense attorney Joseph HTC Niland said during opening arguments in the county Circuit Court in Upper Marlboro.

"But the one and only question," he said, is whether Mr. Quinn was the attacker.

Mr. Quinn, 37, is on trial accused in the Sept. 5 attack on a 24-year-old woman in her Bowie home. He has been charged in a 44-count indictment with first-degree rape, weapons and sex offenses from that attack and three others.

The attacker became known in the Bowie area as the "crossbow rapist" after the series of break-ins and rapes between June and September last year.

Prosecutor Deborah Johnston described the attacker to the jury as a masked man dressed in black from head to toe, with an assault rifle and "rape arsenal" slung over his shoulder, but Mr. Niland emphasized that no one can say for sure that his client was the rapist.

"No one can say this is the man I saw go into [the victim's] home," he said. "No one can identify Mr. Quinn as [the] assailant," he said.

But Ms. Johnston said Mr. Quinn called the victim several times by telephone after the rape and left messages identifying himself as "Robert" on voice mail at her office.

"He asked for her home phone number," Ms. Johnston told the jury. "She said she would rather not give it to him, but gave him her work phone number, instead. When he could not leave his real name, she said to use the name Robert."

According to Ms. Johnston, the victim has a bachelor's degree in psychology and began talking with the attacker after he raped her. She told him that he was not a "bad person" and that he should not do these types of things.

The calls were eventually traced to a pay phone in Washington, where police arrested Mr. Quinn Sept. 13. Mr. Niland told the jury the officers who say they saw Mr Quinn talking on the phone at the same time the victim was talking to "Robert" will not be able to say for sure that they are the same person.

Mr. Quinn was convicted in 1977 of armed robbery and kidnapping in South Carolina, police said. He served nine years of a 25-year sentence before being paroled, authorities said.

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