A mother and her young son were hysterical, battered and bloodied at a hospital just hours after she says she was gang-raped and beaten by several masked, gun-toting teenagers, a police officer testified Monday.
West Palm Beach Police Officer Dustin Moore was among the first to arrive at the hospital early on June 19, 2007.
Moore testified he found the woman "in a fetal position laying on the bed ... and her son was in a fetal position laying on a chair next to her."
"They were crying hysterically, and very emotional, upset," Moore told jurors.
Tommy Lee Poindexter, 20, and Nathan Walker, 18, are being tried on 14 counts each, including sexual battery, burglary, kidnapping, grand theft and promoting sexual performance of a child.
During opening statements, Poindexter's attorney admitted her client raped the woman, and DNA evidence will link him to that crime. However, she said, there is no evidence he participated in any of the other alleged crimes.
"You can't allow the horrific nature of the events ... to overcome your sworn duty to determine whether Tommy Poindexter is guilty of these crimes," public defender Carey Haughwout told jurors.
Walker's attorney, Robert Gershman, also questioned whether his client participated in all 14 allegations.
"It is not clear, it is not given, it is not just because of the horrific nature of the events that Nathan Walker is responsible," Gershman said. "There is doubt ... No matter the emotion, no matter the facts."
DNA evidence, condoms found
A third teen is set for trial in September, while a fourth has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the others. They are being tried as adults even though they were all teenagers at the time.
Police are still looking for other suspects who they say drifted in and out of the apartment and took part in the horrific attack.
Police say up to 10 teenagers raped the woman repeatedly and forced her and the boy to perform sex acts with each other, then doused them with chemicals to clean the crime scene in their public housing complex apartment just a few miles from downtown West Palm Beach.
Authorities say fingerprints and DNA evidence found on clothing and condoms inside the apartment identified the defendants. Each faces a maximum 11 life sentences plus 50 years if convicted.
Prosecutor Craig Williams described for jurors the terrifying evening of June 18. He said the suspects lured the woman, then 35, out of her house by claiming her truck had a flat tire. Three masked gunmen then accosted her and her son and forced them back into the apartment. Others soon joined in the attack.
After being doused with cleaning solutions, nail polish remover and vinegar, Williams said, the victims huddled together in the bathtub naked for several hours, too scared to move.
Then, in pain and bleeding, they walked a mile to the hospital.
Authorities say they still don't know why the woman and her son were targeted. They fled Port-au-Prince, Haiti, years earlier in search of a better life. With no money, they landed in the Dunbar Village housing project, where they almost instantly became targets for crime, standing out as Haitians among the mostly American-born black residents.
Testimony was set to resume on Tuesday.