By MYRA THRIFT
Staff Writer, Defense attorney John R. Thigpen Sr. called four times for a mistrial Tuesday, Day 1 of the gunpoint rape and robbery trial of Quaderiz Reid at the Ware County Courthouse.
Each motion for dismissal was denied by Chief Superior Court Judge Dewayne H. Gillis.
Gillis granted an early end to the day of testimony at just after 3 p.m. when Thigpen asked for a recess to review Police Officer Derek Cobb’s body camera evidence. Neither the defense nor the prosecution had been aware that Cobb — the first to arrive at the crime scene 13 months ago — had recorded everything on his body cam.
The evidence came to light when Cobb, a witness Tuesday, mentioned its existence while on the stand.
Gillis was concerned the body camera tape might have some bearing on the case so he recessed court early to allow all parties time to study it. The jury was dismissed until 9 this morning.
Prior to the jury entering the courtroom Tuesday morning, Thigpen asked the judge to allow his client to be released from wearing a “shocking belt” because it made Reid nervous which would prohibit him from concentrating on the trial.
Gillis denied the motion, saying it was not unreasonable and that he would not interfere with that security measure.
One more issue of business had to be addressed before the trial could get started Tuesday morning. One of the jurors, Sharon Goble, told the judge she only realized when she arrived at court that she was friends with one of the Reid family members, close enough that “every time we meet, we hug.” The juror told the judge she was not sure she could render an unbiased decision on a verdict. The judge released her and replaced her with one of the two alternates selected Monday.
Assistant District Attorney Greg Sasser addressed the jury in his opening statement saying that Reid, who is 20, was charged with rape, home invasion, aggravated assault, armed robbery and aggravated sodomy against a visiting 16-year-old girl from Florida when he unlawfully entered a house on Eastover Drive and that he robbed the male resident there of a cell phone at gunpoint.
“These are serious charges and you have an important job,” said Sasser. “You have to find the truth. I ask you to listen carefully to the evidence from the witness stand. A trial is like a puzzle and we will show you how the pieces fit together.”
Thigpen reserved his right to save his opening statement until the prosecution had finished presenting its case.
The first on the witness stand was Brandon McMasters, who resides at the Eastover Drive house and was allegedly robbed by Reid during the home invasion and attack.
McMasters, who is 18 years old, admitted he had purchased marijuana three weeks earlier and that he gave the dealer, Reid, three fake $100 bills as payment, then a few days later he was confronted by a man whose face was masked at his door and who used brass knuckles to attack him.
He said Reid then broke into his home on March 18, 2017, put a gun to his head and asked him where was his money. He said Reid then forced the 16-year-old girl to perform oral sex on him and then raped her. He told the jury the man pointed a silver-colored revolver at him the entire time he was attacking the girl.
The female victim, now 17, buried her face into a tissue as she testified, sobbing uncontrollably while recounting the attack. Sasser took his time in questioning her, giving her the opportunity to compose herself between questions. She weepingly gave jarring testimony of the attack and later answered questions from Thigpen on cross-examination.
Terry Anderson, a sexual assault nurse examiner with Satilla Advocacy Center, testified she examined the victim after the assault, talked with her and explained the process of the examination. Anderson said the girl was in obvious emotional trauma at the time and showed all the signs of an assault victim.
Anderson said she found some redness on the girl’s body (private parts) but no signs of acute trauma. She said the victim, who was in a fetal position during the early part of her examination, showed signs consistent with rape victims she has assisted over the years, that number being close to 1,500.
Michelle Shepherd, GBI forensic scientist and DNA analyst, testified she received samples taken from the victim but found no DNA other than the girl’s own except for one possible epithelial (a fleck of skin tissue) which she could not identify and could possibly have been that of a male.
Sasser said he has a few more witnesses he plans to put on the stand today. Then the defense will have likely call several witnesses. The judge said a video of about an hour and a half of police witness statements will also be played.
The trial is likely to continue throughout the day today and possibly into Thursday.