ITHACA, N.Y. — A video was shown in court Wednesday in which a man accused of attacking and raping a woman in Dryden last year confessed to burglary and physically assaulting her in her home.
Jeffery Horton said to a police officer in the video, “I just went nuts. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Horton is facing 14 charges for an alleged attack and rape that happened March 24 to 25 last year. His trial started Thursday and featured testimony from the woman accusing him of the crimes, police officers and forensics experts.
The prominently featured evidence Wednesday was the video from the New York State Police that features Horton’s confession to physically assaulting the woman. He did not confess to the rape, which was reported March 26 by the woman.
He maintains his innocence on the rape charge.
On why she didn’t report the brutal rape immediately — the defense has pointed out that she had more than five opportunities to do so — she said Monday, “I just couldn’t believe that he did that to me. I was in shock and ashamed. How could that have happened? Why didn’t I fight harder? Why did I allow that to happen?”
Throughout the video Horton sat in a chair with his feet crossed at the ankle for most of the video, and he occasionally rocked back and forth.
He admitted to slapping her and punching her at least once.
He said to a police officer that he told the woman, “There’s no sense of me fighting it. I’m just going to go down and turn myself in. Your face looks like shit. So that’s what I did.”
The video then shows Horton, alone, sitting and briefly laying in the interview room for a time.
At one point Horton cradles his head in his hands. At another he sighs and appears to express disbelief over what happened.
When the officer returns, Horton speaks with the officer about some procedural issues before having a photo taken and discussing his written statement.
In discussing his statement with the officer, Horton is heard mentioning that the woman never locks her door.
“She always leaves the back door unlocked… I always tell her to lock it she never does. I lock everything… she don’t lock her car, don’t lock nothing,” Horton said.
After the video, a copy of Horton’s statement on the morning of Mar. 25 was shown to the jury. In it, Horton wrote that he had a disagreement earlier that night and went to the woman’s house to smooth things over.
The statement says that after they talked, an argument ensued. Horton says that the woman hit or slapped him in the mouth, and then he hit or slapped her in the face a few times. He later says that he saw “her face was swollen in a few places.”
“Realized I was wrong and turned myself into the police voluntarily,” Horton’s statement reads. “Also called [the woman] and told her I turned myself in. I deeply regret my actions for the night.”
Horton’s statement goes on to note the approximate times of the events. He says he got to the woman’s house around 11:45 or 12 a.m., left at around 1:20 or 1:30 a.m. and turned himself around 1:45 a.m.
Horton’s statement also says that he entered through the unlocked back door.
The doggie door
Following the video, the officer seen interviewing Horton took the stand.
The officer recounted for the district attorney how he returned to the woman’s residence once the sun came up in the morning and took several pictures of the premises, including a gate that he said was partially frozen shut, some footprints outside the house near a doggie door, and then of the doggie door itself.
According to court records, the woman reported that Horton told her he had come through the doggie door before he attacked her.
They also discussed a photo of Horton taken during the interview, with the officer testifying that he did not observe any injuries on Horton’s face.
He went on to talk about how the woman returned on Mar. 26 with additional information about the attack, at which point the officer took photos of her injuries, including deep bruising around the back of her cheeks and neck and lighter bruising on her right arm and a red mark on her left wrist.
Defense attorney Ken Moynihan then questioned the officer. Through a video of the interview with the woman on Mar. 26, Moynihan established that when the officer first examined the woman’s wrists, he said he could not see any bruises. In the video, the woman is heard saying that she felt the bruising but it was hard to tell.
Moynihan then moved his focus to the doggie door, making it a central element of Horton’s defense. He attempted to establish that during the interview on Mar. 26 the officer told the woman that there was no way that he (the officer) could fit through the doggie door. The officer did not recall, but Moynihan said it was on the video.
There were multiple objections and two sidebars relating to whether or not the officer’s statements about doggie door was relevant.
Moynihan eventually asked the officer if he thought he could fit through the doggie door. The officer said no. Then Moynihan asked if the officer remembered telling the grand jury that he could fit through the door, to which the officer replied, “I think I did.”
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Bonavia argued that the doggie door was irrelevant and that what the officer said about the doggie door had no bearing on the officer’s credibility or the credibility of the case. He argued that the doggie door appearing in the initial complaint did not establish that that was the prosecution’s official theory of the case.
After the officer finished his testimony, the district attorney’s office rested their case.
The defense made a motion for the judge to dismiss several of the charges, arguing that the prosecution should be held to proving that he entered through the doggie door and stating that they had not provided proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and that there was insufficient evidence to support the charges of sexual assault.
The judge denied the motion, saying that there was evidence toward each of the charges that, if accepted as true, would be enough proof. It will fall to the jury to make the final decision.
The trial is set to resume Thursday morning at 9 a.m. The defense plans to call at least one additional witness.
Correction: This story initially incorrectly reported the number of charges against Horton.