Jury finds teen guilty of raping, assaulting elderly woman

Published: Aug. 8, 2011 at 9:33 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2011 at 10:02 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A jury has found a teenager guilty of raping and assaulting an elderly woman inside her north Charlotte home.

The jury found 18-year-old Robert McFadden guilty of second-degree rape for the May 2010 assault of an 83-year-old woman who lived at a retirement community.

The jury also found McFadden guilty of simple assault, and felony breaking and entering.

He was found not guilty of first-degree kidnapping.

They jury found the crime to be aggravate due to the victim's age and physical infirmity and Judge Timothy Kincaid sentenced McFadden to serve between 9 1/2 and 12 years in prison for all charges.

Soon after the verdict was announced, the victim's granddaughter addressed the court. She says it has been difficult to witness the emotional pain in which the victim has experienced within the past year.

"I've known my grandmother for 35 years of my life and to see what she went through for the last year, it''s just really hurtful, it's painful and it makes me very angry," said the victim's granddaughter.

The prosecutor also added that the victim has had nightmares, and that her life has changed dramatically.

When the defense spoke, they said the victim did not identify McFadden in a police lineup. They said McFadden had no involvement whatsoever in the assault, and that his parents have been absent in his life.

McFadden could be seen crying.

McFadden's spoke in court saying, "I feel so bad and sorry, I raised Robert and  I did the best I could with him."

Closing arguments in the case lasted nearly three hours Wednesday afternoon, and continued for more than an hour Thursday morning.

The jury began deliberations around 10:30 a.m., and had reached a verdict in the case by noon.

During the prosecution's rebuttal Thursday morning, Assistant District Attorney Samantha Pendergrass wrote on a whiteboard and explained to the jurors the definitions of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, and felony breaking and entering.

She also stressed to the jury that even if the victim's story seemed in consistent, the DNA evidence spoke for itself. She said McFadden's DNA was in the woman's bed, and also found on a condom.

During Wednesday's closing arguments, Pendergrass told the jury the reason family members and a neighbor were not sure about the woman's initial claim of being raped was due to the dementia she suffered.

"She's hurt, she's scared, she's bleeding, and she knows she needs help," said Pendergrass to the jury, allowing for the woman's confusion. "She's not the only one telling you what happened. The evidence is telling you what happened to her."

Defense Attorney Chiege Okwara began her closing argument by doing a role-play demonstration of the victim's family members and a neighbor who Okwara claimed didn't take the woman's claim seriously at first.

She focused on the victim's changing account, a lack of fingerprint evidence, and how the case was a "rush to judgement" against McFadden.

"Do not return the verdict the King awaits," Okwara repeatedly told the jury.

She was referring to the English trial of American settler William Penn in the 1600s. He was put on trial at the urging of the King, but a jury found him "not guilty."

"What they gave you was evidence to return what the King wants," said Okwara.

She kept asking the jury to think about why McFadden's fingerprints were not found at the victim's home.

Fingerprint evidence was the focus of Tuesday's testimony.

As the defense presented their case, Okwara questioned several crime scene workers from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) about a lack of fingerprints found connecting McFadden to the scene.

Todd Roberts, who is a crime lab analyst, said McFadden was either excluded, or the fingerprints he analyzed were not good enough to provide information.

On re-direct, Roberts was also asked whether a lack of fingerprint evidence could also rule out someone's presence at the scene, and Roberts said that information could not be determined.

On Monday, the prosecution introduced DNA evidence putting McFadden at the scene of a rape.

A DNA analyst with the CMPD testified about several samples of DNA found on items taken from the scene.

Aby Moeynkins said the odds were nearly one in seven million that a DNA mixture found on a hair in the bed did not belong to McFadden and the victim.

Moeynkins also testified that DNA found on a condom contained a very high probability of both McFadden and the victim's DNA.

The defense questioned whether the statistics could be considered "speculation." She brought up several items collected from the scene where McFadden's DNA was excluded, or the sample was to small to be conclusive.

When the victim testified on the stand two weeks ago, she struggled to remember details about the incident, but she remained very calm on the stand.

On Monday, prosecutors played a tape of the victim who was interviewed by police soon after the crime occurred. She sounded like a completely different person. Her voice sounded almost unnatural and hard to understand.

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