- Special Sections
4 p.m. Update:
Day three of the Aubrey Phillip Childers case continued on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at the Nolan County Courthouse. Testimony was heard from three local law enforcement officers who were involved in the case, and the jury saw the video interview of Mr. Childers with Sweetwater Police Department (SPD) Detective Sam Cunningham.
The second day of the Aubrey Phillip Childers case continued on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at the Nolan County Courthouse with 32nd Judicial District Court Judge Glen Harrison presiding.
Out of the jury's presence at 9 a.m., a brief hearing was heard regarding the admittance of testimony. Sweetwater Police Department (SPD) Officer Robert Clark took the stand and discussed with Assistant District Attorney Barrett Thomas how he picked up Mr. Childers following his violation of parole with a warrant.
The arrest had nothing to do with the allegation of male on male sexual assault which took place on or around Aug. 15, 2010, but Mr. Clark stated that Mr. Childers began to offer information on the incident, though the officer never asked. Because Mr. Clark wasn't interrogating Mr. Childers, he was never given his Miranda rights.
The defense attorney, Paul Hanneman, was given a copy of the report from Mr. Clark. The officer noted that the meeting was not video recorded and only knew of Mr. Childers' involvement in the case.
Judge Harrison then ruled that the interaction and information given to Mr. Clark by Mr. Childers on Sept. 10, 2010 would be admissible because it was given voluntarily.
The jury then entered the courtroom, and for a majority of the day â€” even leading into the afternoon hours â€” the nine-woman, three-man jury heard the testimony of the victim, a 29-year-old male from Sweetwater.
The District Attorney began the questioning by having the victim recall the night in question, how he partied and drank with friends and went to Club Phoenix, also known as the Cafe, to continue drinking. He was dropped off, alone, and upon entering he stated that two Hispanic females warned him not to go inside because a group of people had a plan to beat him up.
As a result, he walked around outside the club and continued drinking with people he says he didn't know. He entered a red car with two people inside and following that event, he said he didn't remember much because he drank until he passed out.
The next thing the victim remembered was waking up on another street in a gold car, wearing nothing from his waist down. A male was in the front seat, and when the victim asked what happened, the male told him not to leave. The male then left the victim in the car, who eventually pulled up his shorts â€” though he could not find his boxers. He stumbled a bit but eventually he walked out of the car and toward a friend's house.
His plan was to get a gun from his friend and kill whoever he saw, but when two of his friends weren't at home, the victim walked to another friend's house, a female â€” Amanda Seals, who was taking care of her young daughter. He drank a beer and before he could drink another one, Ms. Seals asked the victim what happened and informed him that there was blood on the back of his shirt and shorts.
Ms. Seals dropped the victim off at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater to be checked out, where he saw his sister, her husband and SPD officer Sam Cunningham. He was then taken by Mr. Cunningham to Abilene for the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) examination and was hospitalized for a few days. He then stayed with his sister for further recovery.
The state then entered six pieces of evidence which the jury saw: a picture of the car the victim woke up in, a picture of the victim's bruised face, the picture of the blood stains on the victim's clothing while in Abilene, and the articles of clothing â€” his shirt, shorts and boxers which were later found.
The victim stated that he didn't remember seeing Mr. Childers at the Cafe and he never consented to having sex with Mr. Childers in any way. He did not know him before the night in question, and was unable to say exactly when the assault occurred.
Starting between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., Mr. Hanneman began his cross-examination of the victim. The victim was asked about the night in question, leading up to his meetings with law enforcement. Most of the questioning, however, was based on two pieces of evidence entered by the defense an hour into cross-examination which continued until the noontime lunch recess.
The first was the typed and sworn statement from the victim with SPD officer Sam Cunningham, which was read aloud to the jury; the second piece of evidence was the victim's written statement made prior to visiting with Mr. Cunningham. He stated that no one helped him prepare his personal statement.
The defense asked the victim about his statements, pulling a number of excerpts and asking the victim if he remembered making them. Some statements were recalled, while he stated that he did not remember others.
The victim stated that because of the timing â€” over a year had passed â€” and the trauma associated with the event, he did not remember his statements. He also noted that he tries to put the incident out of his mind and behind him. Though the questioning was bringing the case up again, he did not remember some of his statements.
Mr. Hanneman noted that the victim had been in fights before with Hispanics and African-Americans, trying to cast doubt on the fact that the victim was a peaceful man. The victim stated that he is peaceful when he is not drunk, but typically gets into fights when intoxicated. He also stated that after the incident, he went back to the Cafe one more time.
Following the lunch recess, three issues were brought outside of the jury's presence. One regarded the victim's rap sheet with two charges the defense wanted to bring before the court; the first was not allowed while the second objection was sustained.
The other two regarded the issue of past sexual orientation and behavior of the victim, which was deemed as not relevant and excluded. The state also asked for an excerpt of the video of the victim's interview with SPD officer Sam Cunningham to be excluded which also dealt with his sexual orientation and behavior. During the video, the particular section was muted in sound.
With the jury brought in, the video was shown of the victim's interview with Mr. Cunningham â€” which spanned around a hour and 25 minutes â€” recapping the night of Aug. 14, 2011 leading into the morning of Aug. 15, 2011 from the victim's perspective.
The victim took the stand after the video to answer more questions from Mr. Hanneman, including a recent fight from the previous weekend. The victim stated he was drunk but remembered getting in the altercation, making the defense question his memory from both events.
After the attorneys met privately for 15 minutes, they met in the courtroom for further questioning of the victim. He stated that he doesn't remember things when he's drunk but will do things while drinking though unintentional.
Ms. Reed asked one more set of questions to the victim, in which he stated that he was unsure of who committed the crime against him during his interview with Mr. Cunningham or when talking to his sister. He also reiterated that he did not consent because he was unconscious and then the state entered a black shirt from the scene â€” not belonging to the victim â€” into evidence.
Shortly after 4 p.m., the state called their next witness, Keri Halford, a registered nurse in the emergency room at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital. She recalled seeing the victim in the waiting room crying, anxious, upset and pacing in the room.
Ms. Halford did a medical exam â€” in which the victim remained fully clothed â€” and found the stain on the back of the victim's shorts. When she asked what happened, she was told that he had been raped, only asking basic questions before handing the case over to law enforcement.
She recommended that the victim be taken to Abilene for the SANE exam and was transferred without receiving any head scans. Ms. Halford noted that while she didn't remember the smell of alcohol on the victim, he did tell her that he had been drinking the night before.
The defense questioned Ms. Halford on her credentials and also on how she was able to determine the emotional symptoms of a sexual assault victim (upset and crying), questioning if the victim's emotional state would be similar to a car accident victim.
Mr. Hanneman asked about the statements made by the victim to Ms. Halford and about the pain the victim said he felt, and about being told by the victim he used marijuana on the night of the incident.
She didn't take any blood or urine samples, but the state later noted through Ms. Halford's testimony that those collections were not required. She was shown the state's evidence of the photo of the victim's shorts and noted that while she had never dealt with a male-on-male sexual assault before, she believed the victim's statements based upon what she saw.
After 4:30 p.m., the final witness of the day was called. Susanne Butts, the Abilene nurse who administered the SANE exam on the victim. She discussed her education, training in performing the exam and recertification for the exam.
She also broke down the procedure of the SANE exam, which includes collecting the clothing, a head-to-toe exam and collecting medical history and evidence and taking photos, all of which she did with the victim. Ms. Butts read the account given to her by the victim and then the state entered two pieces of evidence, both being diagrams with notes of the victim's injuries on his body.
One diagram was the entire body, while the other was of the penetrated area. The evidence was presented to the jury, and Ms. Butts discussed about how she collect evidence, which included debris and mentioned the steps taken in collecting evidence from a male. The SANE box kit was also entered into evidence by the state.
The defense entered in two pieces of evidence which were pictures of the abrasions found of the victim from the incident. They were presented to the jury and Mr. Hanneman asked Ms. Butts about the photos and what and how she inspected and collected the evidence.
It was noted that some fecal matter was found in the area, which was normal though not much was found. Ms. Butts testified for the state that she had so much concern for the victim that she called in a physician for further examination, and later discussed the fact that there were no defensive wounds on the victim because of his unconsciousness during the act.
The defense then entered five more pieces of evidence â€” pictures of the victim, and reviewed the report. It was recorded by Ms. Butts that the number of assailants was unknown because the victim didn't recall. Mr. Hanneman also asked about each injury that was marked and recorded and also if the victim had been penetrated but stated she didn't know.
Around 5:15 p.m., the court went into recess for the day. Testimony resumed this morning, Nov. 9, 2011 starting at 9 a.m.