Man accused of kidnapping, rape on trial Alleged victim, now 84, present for 1st-day testimonies
By Schuyler Kropf (Contact) The Post and Courier Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The rape trial of a man accused of brutalizing an 82-year-old woman inside her James Island home began Monday with a detective reading the suspect's post-arrest statements to the jury.
Brandon Vernard Johnson, now 24, was arrested at the scene on June 9, 2006, after a neighbor reported seeing him on top of the victim inside her Harbor View Road residence.
Charleston County sheriff's Detective Matthew Lariccia testified that after the arrest, Johnson asked to speak to authorities. His comments included the admissions "I need help" and "I wish there was something I could do to undo what I did," Lariccia read.
Though he admittedly was drunk that day, Johnson also reported that he thought he'd had sex, the statement said.
Johnson of Summerville is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping. He is accused of keeping the great-grandmother captive while repeatedly raping her for nearly nine hours. He allegedly locked her inside the home after escorting her back from a grocery store.
The woman, now 84 and reportedly suffering from dementia, was in the courtroom Monday for the start of the trial.
In her opening statement, 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Elizabeth Gordon said the concerns of the woman's neighbors, who heard noises from her apartment that night, led to Johnson being caught.
"Thank goodness for nosy neighbors," Gordon told the jury.
Gordon added that the rape shattered the woman's life and erased all the freedoms she'd enjoyed while living on Harbor View Road for 30 years.
"Her home and her independence were taken away that day," Gordon said, adding that "after that night, she has never been able to return to that house."
Defense lawyer Beattie Butler told the jury that things are not always what they seem in a criminal case and noted that Johnson couldn't fully remember everything that happened.
The attack is alleged to have begun about 8 p.m. on a Friday and lasted until early in the morning on a Saturday when deputies were called, authorities said.
Johnson was free on bail on drug trafficking and gun charges in Summerville at the time of the incident.
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