A Roland woman whose late-night climb up a west Little Rock power pole knocked out electricity to about 8,000 residents two years ago lied when she claimed she was fleeing a man who had just raped her at knife point, defense attorney Willard Proctor told a Pulaski County jury on Thursday.
Proctor’s client, Courvoisiea Allen, is facing a potential life sentence on charges of rape, kidnapping, second-degree battery and terroristic threatening. His trial before Circuit Judge Leon Johnson resumes at 8:30 a.m. today. Proctor did not say whether the 25-year-old Little Rock man will testify.
Allen was arrested two weeks after police found the seriously burned accuser — with some of her skin peeling off — in the parking lot of the HomeGoods store at the Promenade on Chenal shopping center on Oct. 4, 2016, at 4:13 a.m., about 45 minutes after the power went out.
Chris Sharp, 61, a worker at a nearby McDonald’s who was waiting in her car for the restaurant to open called 911 when the screaming ,shirtless woman suddenly came up to her car out of the dark begging for help.
The woman spent three weeks in the hospital and had to undergo several skin grafts. Second-degree burns — the most painful kind, according to medical testimony — covered more than 25 percent of her body, including her neck, arms, torso, legs and genitals, prosecutors said.
Proctor’s cross-examination of the 27-year-old woman began with him confronting her about her mental-health problems and history of drug abuse and homelessness. He had her sign an acknowledgment of her troubled past in front of the seven men and five women on the jury, offering the paper to the panel as evidence.
Pressed by Proctor she also acknowledged some discrepancies in her account of what had happened. She told police that night her assailant had put a gun to her head but when she was interviewed by detectives said the man had a knife and that she never saw the man with a gun, although she said she heard the slide of semiautomatic pistol. She also described his car as a gold Toyota Camry while Allen has a gray Dodge Stratus.
Proctor said the woman has told different stories about how her attacker chased her when she escaped him and whether she jumped from the tower or climbed down. Her account of how she came to encounter Allen that night has also changed, he said.
At one point during the often-heated cross-examination, after about an hour answering Proctor’s questions, the woman told the judge she needed a break. She walked out of the courtroom and burst into tears, sobbing loudly.
The woman told jurors she could not remember everything she said to the police — some of it was a complete blank — because she had been through so much and was in so much pain. Prosecutors said that some of her confusion was from the heavy painkillers she had been prescribed.
“You are lying,” Proctor told the woman near the end of his questioning. “We’ve shown places where you lied. Courvoisiea Allen never forced you to perform oral sex.”
“You’re lying now,” the woman answered.
Proctor did not specifically say why the woman would lie about being raped, stabbed and abducted, but suggested that she was either delusional from untreated bipolar disorder or trying to cover up that she’d been hurt trying to steal copper from the substation.
In opening statements, co-counsel Dominique King described Allen as a good Samaritan who had come across the woman walking along the side of the road on a cold night while he was on a work break and gave her a ride.
King said Allen dropped her off at a convenience store only to learn two days later when police showed up, told him he was suspected of rape and searched his car that he had become trapped in a “web of lies.” There’s no evidence the woman had ever been in the vehicle, and police didn’t bother to collect surveillance video from the convenience store that would have cleared him, King said.
Deputy prosecutors Erin Driver and Michelle Quiller said key facts in the case cannot be disputed. Video shows the woman at 3:05 walking into the parking lot at the Walmart at Arkansas 10 and Chenal Parkway where Allen was a stocker. She is seen chatting briefly with Allen who is sitting in his car.
Allen clocks into work to end his lunch break at 3:17 a.m., walks back out of the store a minute later and is seen picking up the woman on the road at 3:20 a.m. The power goes out at 3:30 a.m. The electric jolt that burned her blew her boots off her feet, Quiller said, and the remains of scorched socks were found on the tower at 17316 Kanis Road.
“The reason she climbed up that breaker is because she was being chased by someone and that someone is in this courtroom,” Quiller told jurors, pointing to Allen. “In an attempt to save her life, she almost lost it.”
The woman told police that she was in the parking lot after walking out on a fight with her boyfriend at his home. She said she trusted Allen, although she wasn’t sure of his name, because he claimed to be the younger brother of a former classmate and because he had given her lifts several times before when she needed a ride.
That night, however, he asked her for oral sex — a favor in exchange for a favor — then held her back when she tried to get out of the car, the woman said. He pulled a knife and threatened to kill her unless she complied, the woman testified.
She said she gave in but managed to escape the vehicle at a traffic light, running into the woods to hide from Allen. The woman said she did not get away unscathed because Allen cut her neck as she fled.
The woman said she ran into the woods and tried to hide in the fenced-off area around the power substation, only to have Allen follow her over the fence. She climbed the power pole, with him climbing after her. She said he got close enough to grab her foot but she kicked his hand away just before grabbing the breaker and suffering the severe electric shock that briefly knocked her unconscious.
When she came to, she ran for help until she saw a white car with someone inside, telling jurors she jumped on the hood.
Metro on 04/12/2019
Print Headline: Defense in 2016 case calls account of rape, tower climb in west Little Rock a lie