The night of Feb. 25, 2014, was one of either spontaneous passion and "partying" for a 38-year-old Little Rock man or terrifying degradation and sexual violence at a stranger's hands for a 45-year-old woman.
A Pulaski County jury will be asked to decide today who is telling the truth about that night at the trial of Korey Brown, which began Tuesday.
Brown, charged with rape, robbery, kidnapping, theft and terroristic threatening, maintains that what went on between him and his accuser was consensual, although things briefly -- and violently -- got out of hand, leaving the woman with blackened and swollen eyes. The charges together carry a potential life sentence.
Brown will get the chance to tell his side directly to jurors today when the defense puts on its evidence beginning at 9:30 a.m. before Circuit Judge Leon Johnson.
But if Brown chooses to testify, taking the stand could open him up to questions about his criminal history. He has convictions for drug possession, theft, second-degree battery and commercial burglary from Lee County, and he was homeless and on parole when he was arrested in March 2014.
In Brown's version of events, laid out Tuesday by defense attorney Leslie Borgognoni, the defendant and the woman, a bookkeeper, met by happenstance around 9 or 10 p.m. that February 2014 night when Brown took a shortcut through the parking garage behind the Arkansas Repertory Theatre after buying some videos at Rao Video on Main Street.
Brown came upon the woman in her car, and asked her if she wanted to party with him, Borgognoni said.
She did want to, and the pair went on to spend the next 11 hours together, driving around in the woman's black Honda Civic, buying and smoking crack cocaine, with the woman paying for the drugs after Brown's sparse funds had run out, Borgognoni said.
The pair got along so well that they had sex in the car, but their time together took a darker turn when Brown accused her of taking his crack pipe, Borgognoni said. Brown punched her and they had a brief fight in the car but the altercation came to an amicable end after Brown apologized to the woman, the attorney told jurors.
They went their separate ways around dawn, with the woman giving Brown her business card, Borgognoni said.
Borgognoni said Brown did not know why the woman told police he had abducted and raped her or why she waited a day to make the accusation to police.
The woman had plenty of chances to leave or escape, if necessary, that night but never did, despite three trips to the same convenience store to buy drugs, gasoline and snacks when Brown left her alone in the car with the keys, Borgognoni said.
"It was not rape. It was two consenting adults," the attorney told jurors. "She smoked crack and partied with him because that's what she wanted to do."
But that's not what the woman said during her 61 minutes on the witness stand.
Questioned by deputy prosecutor Jayme Butts-Hall, the woman testified Brown was a stranger who got in her car out of nowhere. She said she had just left Midtown Billiards on Main Street and had pulled into the garage lot to read a text message from her boyfriend when he got into the car and roughly demanded her cash.
"He told me he wasn't going to hurt me, he just needed my money," she said, telling jurors she only had $10 to give him.
He made her drive him to the nearby Albert Pike Hotel at Scott and East Seventh streets where he bought drugs from somebody who called him Korey, the woman said.
After obtaining the drugs, she testified, he made her drive down Ninth Street until the street turned into a dirt road, past a junkyard and a dilapidated building where he had her park. She said he made her smoke crack, telling her how to inhale and exhale, she said.
When he began to undress her, she tried to resist, she told jurors, sobbing. He punched her in the face several times, she said, telling jurors Brown somehow ended up in the driver seat after beating her.
"I fought back. I tried to get away. I was never able to get out of the car," she said. "I got so disoriented and beat up. I ended up in the passenger side seeing stars."
She managed to bite his hand, recalling for jurors the taste of his blood in her mouth.
Screaming threats, he demanded she give him her bank and credit cards. She told jurors that he drove her to a bank to withdraw money from her account, drove back to Albert Pike for more crack then drove them back to the Ninth Street "creepy place," she said.
This time he made her perform oral sex on him, she told jurors, testifying that he also forced her to submit to oral sex by him before he raped her. He was very particular about what he wanted her to do, she said.
"He told me what to do and what not to do," she said. "He wanted me to do it in a particular way. This went on for a very long time."
He eventually let her put her clothes back on, she said, and he seemed to lose interest in her around dawn. Brown got out of her car behind Warehouse Liquor Market on Main Street, leaving her both an apology and a threat, the woman said.
"He apologized and said he wished he'd gotten to know me," she said. "He said if I went to police it would be the last thing I ever do. I took this to mean my life was in danger."
About the first thing she did, the woman said, was go home, pack and leave her home, fearing that Brown would find her again.
Asked about why she never tried to get away while there were people around, the woman said she was scared and never saw anyone around who might help her. The few people she saw that night appeared to be friends of Brown's, the woman testified. Other times, she was naked and shoeless, she said. And the whole time, Brown constantly threatened to kill her if she disobeyed him.
"Every word he said to me was a threat ... and I believed him," she said. "I was just trying to figure out how to get out of there alive."
Brown did not become a suspect until police, based on security photos from the woman's bank, recognized the man in her car as a homeless man who frequented the River Market, according to testimony.
Metro on 09/30/2015
Print Headline: Defense set to state case in LR rape-kidnap trial