City man on trial in Towson rape case

Student was attacked on campus during break

April 05, 2002|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County prosecutor told jurors yesterday that a 30-year-old city man followed a Towson University student across campus, grabbed her from behind, threatened to inject her with an HIV-contaminated needle and raped her in the bushes during spring break last year.

Anthony Miller of the 300 block of Belvedere Ave. went on trial yesterday in the rape of the 20-year-old woman as she was walking home from work to an off-campus apartment about midnight March 24.

"You are going to be exposed to a horrific crime," Assistant State's Attorney Robin Coffin told jurors.

It is the first of two rape trials scheduled for Miller this month in Baltimore County Circuit Court before Judge J. Norris Byrnes.

Miller also is charged with raping a 12-year-old Rodgers Forge girl behind a building in the 6900 block of York Road, as she was walking home from school June 7 last year. That trial is scheduled to begin April 16.

Miller also has been charged in an attempted rape in November 2000 in Baltimore City. No trial date has been set in that case and city prosecutors have placed those charges on hold pending the outcome of the county charges, prosecutors said.

Coffin told jurors yesterday that the 20-year-old woman was attacked after she had left work at a Towson restaurant about 11:30 p.m. The campus was nearly deserted because the students were away for break, Coffin said.

She said that Miller threatened to stick the victim with an infected needle if she screamed. He then raped her and took her driver's license to let her know that he knew where she lived, Coffin said.

She said that police took the victim to Greater Baltimore Medical Center, where fluid collected matched Miller's DNA.

But Miller's lawyer, Gwyn Hoerauf, told jurors yesterday that she hopes to raise considerable doubts throughout the trial about how the police handled the DNA evidence.

"I know the DNA is mighty powerful evidence, but it's only as good as the people who handled it," she told jurors.

She said that the state's DNA expert is employed by the county police and because the case was reported in area newspapers, there was "considerable pressure" on the police to make an arrest.

"You have to ask, `Can we rely on the people who are trusted with the evidence?'" Chappell said.

According to court papers, Miller was apprehended after the Rodgers Forge rape when witnesses allegedly saw his 1994 Mercury Tracer leaving the scene and reported the license number to police. The girl in that case later picked Miller's photograph out of a group of six photos.

Coffin was barred by state and federal law from telling jurors yesterday about the city and Rodgers Forge cases.

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