YOUNGSTOWN Trial opens for 3 men in kidnapping, rape
The victim memorized her attackers' license plate.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- After more than 10 months of being silenced by a court-imposed gag order, city police will finally be able to talk about what happened the night of Aug. 21, 2001.
What they will say won't be pretty.
They'll talk about a young woman who was kidnapped and robbed, then brutally and repeatedly raped and sodomized as she screamed and begged her attackers to leave her alone.
"No one heard her screams out there on that dead-end street," said Assistant Prosecutor Deena Calabrese.
Three of the four men accused of being there that night are on trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. The fourth man, Jamar Callier, 22, has already pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against the others. He'll be sentenced after the trial for the other three defendants in the case.
Police were put under a gag order in November 2001 by Judge R. Scott Krichbaum, barring them from making any public statements about the case until the trial. It was done at the request of the county prosecutor's office, which wanted to limit pretrial publicity.
Several police officers are expected to testify during the trial of Chaz Bunch, Brandon Moore and Andre Bundy, which began late Wednesday afternoon with opening statements by the lawyers to the eight female and four male jurors, and is expected to last well into next week.
What's behind charges
Calabrese said the victim, a 21-year-old Boardman woman, was accosted at gunpoint by Moore as she got out of her car at a Detroit Avenue group home for the mentally and physically disabled, where she worked.
She was forced back into her car and driven away, with Moore behind the wheel following another car. A short time later, Bunch got out of the lead car and into the car with Moore and the victim, the assistant prosecutor said. With a gun pointed at her head, they stole her money and jewelry, and committed the first sexual assault, Calabrese said.
The woman was then taken to an isolated location just off Market Street, near the Pyatt Street Market, where Bunch and Moore took turns sodomizing and raping her while Callier and Bundy watched from the other car, Calabrese told the court.
Calabrese said that during the ride to the rape scene, the woman was able to see the license plate of the car in which Bundy and Callier were riding.
"The reason we are here today is that she memorized that license number," Calabrese said.
After the assault ended, the woman drove to a Western Reserve Road home where she knew some of her relatives would be. She was taken to the hospital from there.
The victim gave police a description of the car and the license number. Police found the car a short time later at a Dairy Mart store on Mahoning Avenue, and the men were caught after a short chase. Some of the victim's clothing, jewelry and other belongings were found in the car, police said.
Calabrese said there is DNA evidence linking Moore to the rapes.
She also said that shortly before the woman was kidnapped and raped, the same four men are suspected of robbing a Maywood Drive man and his fianc & eacute;e outside his home, also at gunpoint.
Moore, 16, of Applecrest Avenue, faces charges of rape, kidnapping and three counts of aggravated robbery. His lawyer, Damian Billak, admitted that Moore was there that night but said he'd been threatened with death by another man if he did not go and participate.
Bundy's lawyer, James Gentile, also said Bundy was there only out of fear for his life. Bundy, 19, of West Hylda Avenue, is charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and one count of conspiracy to aggravated burglary.
Bunch's lawyer, Dennis DiMartino, said Bunch, 17, of Willis Avenue was not there at all. He said it was another man named "Shortie Mack." That's the same man Gentile and Billak said intimidated their clients into participating.
DiMartino said there is no physical evidence linking his client to the rapes or any of the other crimes, and said the woman was wrong when she identified Bunch as one of her attackers.
"Under the circumstances, I don't think it requires a leap of faith or a stretch of the imagination to suggest that she could be mistaken," he said.