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Zephyrhills victim testifies in robbery, rape trial

DADE CITY — The man who appeared in her bedroom wore a hooded sweat shirt and a mask over most of his face.

The woman, 66 and alone, could see only his eyes as he held a knife to her throat and uttered "Wake up, b----."

In court on Monday, she swore she saw them again.

"Those are the eyes that woke me up," said the woman, testifying in the rape and robbery trial of Jathniel McMichael.

McMichael, 21, is accused of breaking into the woman's Zephyrhills home early on March 1, 2007, with a friend. He and Bobby Lee Black III demanded money from the woman, authorities say, threatened her, rifled through her belongings and then took turns raping her.

She is not being identified because of the nature of the crime.

Monday marked the third time she had to take the witness stand and describe her ordeal to a jury of strangers.

Authorities charged Black and McMichael with a second attack on a 68-year-old woman about three weeks later, also in a Zephyr­hills mobile home park.

That victim was forced into her van and driven to a bank by two masked men. While McMichael drove, authorities say, Black raped her. Then they drove her to a water-filled quarry, threw her in and pushed her van in behind her.

Black, 22, went to trial last year in each case and was convicted, largely on DNA evidence linking him to the first rape. He was given multiple life sentences.

McMichael faces the same possible sentence. He previously turned down a plea deal of 30 years in prison.

On the stand Monday, the victim in the first attack identified evidence from the crime: her yellow nightgown she was forced to remove and which her attackers took with them. Her rosary beads. Pictures of her bruised face and arms.

"That's what I looked like afterward," she said, examining the pictures. "That's where I was cut. That's where I was kicked in the face."

The trial is expected to last through Wednesday.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Zephyrhills victim testifies in robbery, rape trial 05/17/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 17, 2010 10:34pm]
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