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Victim testifies in rape trial for Tampa door-to-door security salesman

TAMPA — The ADT security salesman knew the young woman was alone when he went back to her home.

Rashad Hales pushed his way inside her Town 'N Country trailer and locked the door. He said he would kill her, she testified in court Tuesday.

He choked her and held a cord around her neck. He held her over a sink and said he could drown her. At one point, he put a knife to her side, she testified.

She believed Hales could kill.

The woman, who is now 20, fought him off at first, but after he bloodied her nose and left a bright red slap mark on her face, she gave up.

She did not fight him as he raped her, she testified. She wanted to live.

Hales is on trial for rape and attempted murder on Dec. 30, 2011. He was 19 then and selling ADT services for the SecureWatch company in Tampa when, according to deputies, he forced sex on the young woman, all the while telling her that she had better please him or she would die.

Shortly after the crime, deputies said Hales confessed to the rape and said his only regret was that he did not kill her.

The first time Hales knocked on the victim's door it was daylight, sometime around 5 p.m., she testified. She told Hales she would not be buying ADT's services. She did not make those decisions, she said. Her fiance did, and he was not home.

Hales knocked again about five minutes later, she testified, and this time he grabbed her wrist. He pushed her inside when she started screaming.

He said he had killed before, prosecutor Rita Peters said in her opening statement, but after seeing the young woman bleeding he changed his mind about killing her. He told deputies that during an hourlong interview after the crime, Peters said.

Jurors will see that "video confession" later, Peters said.

The victim, who is not being identified because of the nature of the crime, told her fiance about the attack when he returned to their trailer shortly after Hales slipped out, she testified. The fiance called 911 while running down the street, trying to find the attacker.

Deputies soon caught up to Hales, who had been stopped by concerned neighbors and his SecureWatch co-workers, according to three co-workers who testified Tuesday.

A deputy brought the victim to the area, and she identified Hales as her attacker, Peters said.

"She identifies him without any hesitation: 'That's my attacker. That's the man who raped me,' " Peters said.

She said she was 100 percent sure, the deputy told jurors.

In its opening statement, the defense told jurors to listen to testimony with a "critical ear."

"Just because a witness says something does not make it so," said defense attorney Kenneth Littman.

But on Tuesday morning, three witnesses — the SecureWatch employees — gave similar accounts of finding Hales after the alleged attack:

The SecureWatch team had left together that day in a company van to canvass some neighborhoods. Each said that, though they had gone out together, they had not seen Hales in a while. The last sighting was about 5 p.m.

The team had tried to reach him, and eventually Hales called their leader, a woman who drove the company van.

They decided to meet at a Shell gas station on Sheldon Road. By the time the SecureWatch team arrived, law enforcement were swarming the area. The agency had a helicopter in the air and canine units on the ground.

The team soon saw Hales running toward the minivan. He no longer had on his uniform. He was sweating and breathing hard, they testified.

He dove into the open driver's side window and said: "Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!" according to his co-worker Guillermo Maldonado.

Meanwhile, some people nearby were pointing at Hales and saying that he had attacked a woman. A couple of the SecureWatch workers got out of the van.

Two testified Tuesday that they looked at Hales and asked: What happened?

"I raped her, and she liked it," Maldonado recalls Hales saying.

Deputies took Hales into custody. Soon they had the victim's statement and Hales' confession. Then the forensic evidence came back.

An analyst had found the victim's DNA on Hales' boxers.

Hales faces three counts of sexual battery, as well as armed burglary and attempted murder. The jury could begin deliberating as soon as Wednesday.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Victim testifies in rape trial for Tampa door-to-door security salesman 05/14/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 8:17am]
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