Accuser in rape trial says she was hit and choked

Published: Mar. 26, 2015 at 3:40 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2015 at 3:40 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A convicted felon accused of choking and sexually assaulting a woman is on trial and Thursday Fitzgerald Rice's accuser took the stand for the second day. Prosecutors say Fitzgerald Rice has been in this kind of trouble before.

They say the behavior the accuser described is similar to previous cases, and argued those alleged victims should able to tell their stories to the jury. Judge Bob Bell ruled late Thursday afternoon to allow the prosecutors to present those witnesses in this case.

Prosecutors, Leslie Stephens and Glen Cole say there are three other women who will say they were sexually assaulted by Rice. They say the injuries, his demands and his threats are identical, and that all of the acts happened at Rice's apartment.

Rice's defense lawyer argued these other allegations would be prejudicial. Not every one of these women who prosecutors are asking to come forward are from a conviction. Rice was convicted of attempted rape in 2002.

So far, the jury has heard one story about a woman who claims Fitzgerald Rice forced her to commit multiple sexual acts against her will, when she refused she was beaten and threatened in his bedroom on Central Avenue.

In her graphic recorded statement she told police, she was hit twice in the head, three times in the face, and choked at least four times. She says blood from her nose was on Rice, and it didn't seem to phase him.

The jury also reviewed photos of the accuser's injuries.

When Rice's lawyer, Bob Trobich cross examined the accuser, she wiped away tears as she answered questions about her mental health and sequence of events. He immediately attacked the accuser's credibility about how her story changed. When she first spoke to police she never mentioned the other man she says Rice's threatened her to have sex with in his bedroom, and how she didn't tell officers immediately about how she agreed to perform one sex act for 5 dollars.

Trobich asked her about her request to speak with a female officer, and after CMPD granted that request how she still didn't tell the truth. He also questioned her mental health and whether the symptoms of her disorders are illusions and hyper-sensitivity. She responded she didn't believe so and she isn't a health expert.

After she left the courtroom, Rice spoke with his lawyer. His lawyer told the judge Rice was unhappy with his questioning. After a 10 minute break and the lawyer speaking with Rice in the court's holding cell he came back out.

"Me and him got an understanding," Rice told the judge, "We're alright."

Police officers took the stand explaining that even though the alleged victim agreed to one sex act for money her injuries were severe—marks on her neck, a black eye and scratches.

"Regardless of the circumstance we determined that an assault did occur as well as a strangulation that we would attempt to locate the offense location, do a knock and talk," said Officer Martin McGee.

Officers say when they arrived, Rice invited them in.

"He asked us to step inside so that his neighbors wouldn't hear us all talking at his door," said Officer Melissa Cicicio.

Officers say inside they found many things in Rice's bedroom that the accuser described earlier. They brought Rice outside. And in court the jury heard the dash cam video where she tells officers, "That's him, that's him."

On her first day of testimony, the accuser admitted she was ashamed she put herself in that situation. She stopped to cry several times during her testimony.

Investigators say this isn't the first time Fitzgerald Rice has been accused of this.

Although Rice was convicted in 2002 for an attempted rape and assault at his apartment in 2001, neither lawyer mentioned Rice's record during opening statements.

On Friday, two more accusers took the stand to detail alleged assaults by Rice. One woman said she was held captive and violently raped for more than 12 hours. The woman said, "He just took what he wanted over and over again." The woman detailed being punched and choked by Rice and also said she urinated on him. Rice's defense attorney questioned the credibility of both witnesses on Friday.

The second woman was asked why she didn't call police sooner. The woman, who was married at the time of the alleged attack, said she was very shaken up after the assault.

Testimony is scheduled to continue on Monday with the prosecution planning to call a 3rd woman who says she was also raped by Rice.

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