Attorney: Edwards doesn't deny abducting victim - | WBTV Charlotte

Attorney: Edwards doesn't deny abducting victim

Douglas Nelson Edwards (Source: New Hanover Co. Detention Center) Douglas Nelson Edwards (Source: New Hanover Co. Detention Center)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

The attorney for a man on trial for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl said during opening statements that his client doesn't deny taking the child.

But Douglas Nelson Edwards' attorney said his client didn't sexually assault the victim.

Edwards, a registered sex offender, is accused of the kidnapping that took place in September 2016. Edwards has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 15, 2016. 

Jury selection was held in Sampson County and jurors are being transported to New Hanover County for the trial.

Throughout the trial, the judge will allow the young victim to testify with her mother despite Edwards' attorney asking otherwise. 

"He left her out there tied to that tree with no food, no water, no shelter, no way to defend herself against predators. She was tethered to the ground so that she couldn't stand up," Assistant District Attorney Lance Oehrlein said during opening statements. 

The assistant district attorney showed the jury the chain that was used, explaining it was used as a choke collar so that as the victim moved, it got tighter. 

Since the abduction, the victim's mother testified her daughter doesn't want to play outside anymore and is on guard and wary of men in public. The victim's mother said her daughter continues to have nightmares, reliving what happened.

The victim's mother said that she and her two daughters were playing in their yard in the Royal Palms Community on Sept. 14, 2016. She said her son was doing homework inside the residence, and repeatedly called for her to help him.

When she went inside to help, she says her other daughter yelled that a man was taking her sister.

Master Deputy Hudson with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office was called to the stand by the state, and said he was the first to respond to a reported kidnapping. Detective Gina Jones with the sheriff's office said she arrived and found a crowded scene in the neighborhood with neighbors and law enforcement around the victim's home. Jones later escorted the family to the hospital after the victim was located.

A neighbor in the community, Morley Gutierrez, also took the stand Wednesday, and said that he saw a man on a moped leaving the community with a child. After a boy told him he was looking for his sister, the neighbor said he was going to follow the man onto Carolina Beach Road. The man said he was not able to follow the vehicle for long due to heavy traffic in the area.

Edwards was stopped twice after an alert about the abduction was issued. During the second stop, Edwards agreed to a voluntary interview with Detective Lisa Hudson of the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

Jurors watched a recording of that interview in court Wednesday. In it, Hudson asks Edwards what he did that day, and eventually asks if he knows anything about the missing girl. Edwards denied knowing anything about the incident even after detectives said they had eyewitnesses give a suspect description similar to Edwards.

District Attorney Ben David said the victim's rescue will be discussed at length in court on Thursday.

Background of the case

According to court documents, Edwards was watching the girl play in the front yard of her home in the Royal Palms Community on Sept. 14 before snatching her and putting her on his moped.

Witnesses reported watching the girl “screaming and kicking” Edwards moments after the kidnapping.

Searchers looked through the area throughout the night until authorities were led to a wooded location off of River Road the next morning. The girl was found alive, but covered in mosquito bites and chained to a tree.

Edwards, who was brought in for questioning the night before and kept under surveillance overnight, was arrested that morning. He admitted to taking the girl, according to a court document.

In November 2016, a grand jury indicted Edwards on the following charges:

  • Attempted first-degree murder 
  • First-degree kidnapping
  • Two counts of taking indecent liberties with children
  • Statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult
  • Statutory rape of a child by an adult
  • Assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury

According to arrest warrants, Edwards wrote a letter to the victim on Nov 16. stating he was sorry and for "no more policia" and for "no testamonial." He was charged with felony intimidating a witness.

In Edwards' court appearance, the judge prohibited Edwards from communicating with the victim or her family and ordered the jail screen his mail, minus correspondence with his attorney.

Last month, Edwards was charged with possession of a weapon by an inmate after he allegedly was caught with a battery casing that had been fashioned into a blade, according to Lt. Jerry Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office. 

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