DADE CITY — The rape case involved two people with troublesome backgrounds. The victim was a 39-year-old prostitute who used drugs and who couldn't remember the month she said she was attacked. The defendant was 31-year-old Nathan Christopher Floyd, who told sheriff's deputies he had never traded sex for money but later admitted he had, and then accused the woman and two others of trying to set him up because he refused to pay their fee or give them a ride back to their street corner.
"He's an a--, but he's not guilty of rape," Floyd's attorney, Dillon Vizcarra, told a jury Thursday afternoon during closing arguments in his client's trial. He called the state's case a "crazy story" and said those who make accusations of serious crimes "had better have their ducks in a row."
Yes, prosecutors countered, the woman was a prostitute. She didn't call the cops afterward, the woman said, because "they blow us off as a bunch of dumb hookers."
No, she didn't remember the exact date because "things are different in the world of prostitution."
But despite all this, Assistant State Attorney Phil Matthey argued, the woman was still raped.
"This is not in any way a case of consensual sex," he said. "When Nathan Floyd put a knife to her throat, it changed from being a sexual date to being a sexual assault."
In the end, the jury of four women and two men believed the woman. After deliberating about an hour Thursday evening, they convicted Floyd of Land O'Lakes of sexual battery with a deadly weapon. Circuit Judge Susan Gardner sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
Floyd was arrested last fall after two prostitutes in Hillsborough County said he raped them at knifepoint. The investigation led authorities to the Pasco victim, who also works in Tampa but said she was raped at a mobile home in the Angus Valley area of Wesley Chapel after Floyd agreed to pay her $100 to have sex with him.
The woman, whose name was withheld by the Tampa Bay Times because of the nature of the crime, testified earlier this week that she got in Floyd's car, a green Ford Thunderbird with a Sunoco bumper sticker, and agreed to let Floyd drive her to Wesley Chapel. When they arrived at the deserted mobile home, she asked that the lights be turned on. She said Floyd put a knife to her throat and told her there were no lights.
"You can do this the easy way or the hard way," she recalled him saying, just before he raped her.
The presence of the knife changed things.
"I didn't have a choice," she said.
Afterward, she begged Floyd not to leave her there, she said. He tossed her phone out the car and said "if I did that for you, that would be more than I'd done for the other girls," the woman testified.
She called a friend and then went home, showered and "tried to forget about it."
Vizcarra, whose client didn't take the stand, questioned why a woman who had just been raped would have wanted a ride with the man who sexually assaulted her.
He also questioned why she gave deputies several dates as to when the incident occurred.
"How can you bring this charge against someone in this country and say this happened sometime late last year?" Vizcarra asked. "This is the kind of reasonable doubt you've got to find him not guilty."
Matthey said the defense's contention that this was a scheme "cooked up" by disgruntled prostitutes was unrealistic. He pointed out that the woman admitted on the witness stand to being ripped off on many occasions.
It's just part of the job, he said.