A former prostitute, who was raped, strangled, cut and left for dead in Leakin Park, took the stand Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court and tearfully recounted the details of the 2003 attack by an unlicensed "hack" cabdriver whose DNA is linked to two murders.
"I felt his arm go around my neck and he started choking me," the 37-year-old woman said, waving her fists behind her head to show how she tried to fight the man off. "My eyes went up in my head, then everything went black."
The Baltimore Sun is withholding the woman's name because she is the victim of a sex crime.
Her testimony came as part of a pretrial hearing for William Vincent Brown, 42, who is charged in her attack and in the murders of a 25-year-old homeless woman and a 15-year-old girl. Court records show Brown is charged with 49 counts - including murder, assault, rape and weapons offenses - in nine separate cases stemming from the three incidents in 2003 and 2004, when a series of assaults against sex workers suggested they were being targeted.
A DNA report last year linked the three crimes. Two men have been charged and acquitted in the girl's death, raising questions of whether Brown, too, could be wrongfully accused.
Defense attorneys pointed to inconsistencies in police reports and the victim's recollections, suggesting she had earlier identified another suspect and given different accounts to varying officers.
It was "so long ago," she said, called to the stand to determine whether her experience is admissible as evidence in one of the murder cases against Brown. "I don't remember exactly what I told this one and that one."
But she clearly believed that Brown was the man who nearly cut her ears from her head and put her into a coma that took months to recover from.
"He raped me, cut me and left me for dead in the park," she said.
The woman, who is in custody on unrelated pending charges, locked eyes with Brown as she took the stand.
She'd hailed a hack cab and asked for a ride to a friend's, making a stop along the way. Her attacker flirted with her and she made it clear she wasn't interested: She wasn't prostituting right now, she was in a relationship. He didn't listen, veering off their agreed-upon route and driving into Leakin Park, where he raped her in the back of his hatchback, then choked her until she lost consciousness, she said.
When she came to, her face was wet with blood; her ears had been "cut away" from her head, according to charging documents. They were surgically repaired while she was hospitalized.