2 victims testify at rape, kidnapping trial

2014-04-08T10:00:00Z 2014-04-09T15:04:04Z 2 victims testify at rape, kidnapping trialGazette Staff The Billings Gazette

3:15 p.m. update: The trial this afternoon included testimony from the second victim, who was attacked on April 25.

She testified that she went to sleep around midnight and awoke to "a man kneeling next to my bed, kind of going through stuff." 

She said she asked the man who he was and he grabbed her and pulled her across the bed.

She testified that he started choking her and she couldn't breathe. She said he had one hand on her mouth and the other hand choking her around the neck.

She testified that he asked where her cash was and if anyone else was in the house.

"I thought it was pretty much a robbery that was going wrong," she said.

She testified that she heard clicking sounds, like from a camera. The first victim also testified that she heard what sounded like a camera during that attack.

She said he gagged her and tied her hands behind her back. She also felt what may have been the end of a gun held to her neck.

"I was getting to a place where I felt pretty helpless," she said.

She testified that she fought against her attacker when he tried to remove her clothes. She said he took both his hands and dug them into her eyeballs.

She said she struggled again when he touched her and managed to get free.

She testified that she screamed for him to get out. She said he punched her and then ran away.

She said she went to her roommate's room and broke down the door. She said they pushed a trunk in front of the door because they were worried the attacker was still in the house. Her roommate called 911.

2 p.m. update: After a recess for lunch, the trial of accused serial rapist Toby Eugene Griego continued Tuesday afternoon with testimony from the second victim's roommate.

Jessica Overstreet testified that she went to bed at about 9 p.m. on the night of the attack. She said she woke up at about 8:20 a.m. to the victim yelling for someone to get out of the house.

"She was terrified. She was frantically screaming and yelling," Overstreet said. She said the victim broke down her door.

Overstreet called 911, and that call was played in the courtroom.

Overstreet described the victim's demeanor: "She was a mess. she was bawling. Her hair was a mess. She was terrified."

Also testifying Tuesday afternoon is Officer Richard Gilmore, who responded to the April 25 attack.

Gilmore testified that the victim's face was red and she appeared to have been crying. He said she had red marks on her neck.

Gilmore said he took as evidence a piece of cloth that the victim said was used to tie her hands. That cloth was entered as evidence in the trial.

He was also questioned about photos of the victim. He said redness on her neck is consistent with being choked and marks on her arm are consistent with being bound.

12 p.m. update: The first victim has finished testifying, and the trial has taken a noon lunch recess.

Testimony will resume at 1:15 p.m.

The victim's testimony also included video taken during the rape. She confirmed that she is the person seen in still shots from the video.

She testified that she stayed with a friend for three weeks after the attack. She said she couldn't return to college for several days and couldn't work for a week.

She also testified that she believed her attacker was white, blonde, and in his 30s because she saw her attacker's wrist and lower arm. She said she did not see tattoos or face.

Lyndie Jolly, a nurse who did the rape examination of the first victim, also testified Tuesday morning.

Jolly said she was a sexual assault examiner from 2005 to November 2013. She had to be specially trained to do the examinations.

She examined the first victim on Jan. 27. She testified that the victim had redness and an abrasion from being assaulted.

11 a.m. update: After a 15-minute recess, the first victim continued her testimony. 

The victim, whom The Gazette is not identifying, testified that after he raped her repeatedly, he forced her into the bathtub and made her scrub her body. She said she was still blindfolded.

"He grabbed (me) by (my) hair and pulled me out of the tub," she said. 

She was again raped with objects.

"I did (cry out) because it hurt so bad. I tried wiggling my body out of his grip and he hit me again. Blows to the head," she said.

The victim also testified that she could hear a clicking sound, like that from a camera.

She testified that after she was raped again, she was again forced to bathe. 

He dunked her head under the water and she thought she was going to be drowned, she said. She testified that she was thinking "that this man is going to drown me in my own bathtub."

After the victim was raped yet again, she said the man put her face in a pillow and told her not to scream or move until she left. He came back in one time before leaving, she said. 

She testified that she locked the door and put some clothes on but couldn't find her phone. She went to a neighbor's and called police, then went to the hospital, she said.

She estimated the attack lasted about "two hours. It seemed to go on forever."

Earlier Tuesday morning, a neighbor who called 911 after the attack on Jan. 27 testified, followed by a responding officer.

The first of four victims expected to testify in the trial of suspected serial rapist Toby Eugene Griego took the stand Tuesday morning.

Griego, 42, is being tried on 27 charges in connection with a string of home-invasion robberies, sexual assaults, kidnappings and an attempted sexual assault last year. He is alleged to have attacked four victims on Jan. 27, April 25, May 27 and July 2.

The victim testified that she awoke to a hand over her mouth and a knife to her throat. She said she was gagged and blindfolded. 

She testified that she was raped repeatedly with an object and that it was extremely painful. She said the man told her he wasn't afraid to use the knife if she looked at him, so she did not look at him.

She said she was "was very much so" resisting, but that when she did, the man would hit her or push her into the mattress.

She testified that the man went through her belongings and specifically asked for her money bag. She is a server and keeps a money bag, she said.

The state’s trial brief lists the four victims and two of Griego’s ex-girlfriends as witnesses.

Court proceedings on Monday started at 9 a.m. with the final round of jury selection. Shortly before noon, legal counsel chose a jury of seven women and five men, with three male alternate jurors, from a pool of 80 people who made it through three days of jury selection last week.

Court let out for a noon lunch break, and then Chief Deputy County Attorney Rod Souza gave a 30-minute opening statement at 1:15 p.m.

The four victims “ … were woken in their bedrooms in the early morning hours by a home invader, all four of them attacked, beaten, robbed, kidnapped and for three of them, brutally and horribly raped,” the prosecutor said.

The women were repeatedly raped with foreign objects and then forced to take a bath or shower, according to charging documents.

“The state will prove to you over the course of this trial all at the hands of one man, the defendant, Toby Griego,” Souza said, pointing to where Griego sat with his counsel.

Griego is represented by Regional Deputy Public Defender David Duke, head of the Billings public defender’s office, and J. Thomas Bartleson of the major crimes unit of the office of the state public defender.

During his 10-minute opening statement, Duke repeated several times his client is innocent until proven guilty, and that the burden of proof is on the state.

He said several men aside from Griego were identified as possible assailants in some of the attacks.

He also said the items the victims reported stolen were not found at Griego’s home, and that investigators didn't find DNA or fingerprint evidence connecting Griego to the crime scenes.

“As we go through this process, Toby Griego is clothed with the presumption of innocence until such time as you find that the evidence persuades you differently,” Duke said.

The jury is tasked with reaching a unanimous decision of guilty or not guilty at the end of the trial, which is expected to last about a week.

Griego faces 10 counts of sexual intercourse without consent, six counts of robbery, four counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of assault with a weapon, two counts of intimidation and one count of attempted sexual intercourse without consent — all felonies. He also faces a misdemeanor count of surreptitious visual observation or recordation in a residence.

Court records indicate that if convicted of the rape, kidnapping or robbery charges, Griego faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole because of his criminal history in New Mexico.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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