Rape trial ends with assault plea

Published 1:07 am Friday, February 7, 2014

Defense attorney: No physical evidence in state’s case

Jury deliberation in the rape trial of Russell Derrel Worley was cut short Thursday when the defendant agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

Closing arguments ended just before noon Thursday, with prosecutor Stacey Brooks asking jurors to convict Worley on seven counts of raping his teenage daughter in 2009, but before jurors could reach a verdict, Worley agreed to a deal that included a guilty plea to charges of assault II.

During summation, Brooks told jurors Worley began his sexual assaults against his then-14-year-old daughter in the spring of 2009 and continued raping her throughout the year, with the last reported incident coming during a birthday party in October.

“Childhood is supposed to be simple. It’s supposed to be a time of innocence,” Brooks said Thursday. “(Her) childhood was ripped apart when her daddy raped her seven different times.”

While Brooks claimed the victim waited until March of 2010 to report the abuse because she had lived in several different homes and “wanted to be part of a family,” defense attorney David Baker told jurors the delay was simply another indication of false accusations.

“In a typical rape case there are a few things you look for,” Baker said. “There is no physical evidence in this case, and that’s because it never happened.”

Worley is accused of committing the rapes in several different locations, including his daughter’s bedroom and a work semi-truck, but Baker claimed those allegations also point to cracks in the state’s case.

“The house was tiny,” Baker told jurors. “If he was attacking her in her bedroom, why didn’t she yell? Is there (evidence) found in her room? Did a doctor say her injuries were consistent? We don’t have any of that.”

Baker also pointed to inconsistencies in testimony as further proof of his client’s innocence, citing an interview with Covington County sheriff’s deputies when he said the victim recanted her claims against Worley.

“She told them it was not true and that she was mad about being punished for having bad grades,” Baker said.

The prosecution also reminded jurors of earlier testimony from the niece of Worley’s ex-wife, who took the witness stand and claimed he also attacked her in 2003, when she was 17 years old.

Jurors declined to take a lunch break before beginning deliberations Thursday, but had not reached a verdict when Worley agreed to the plea deal Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office said.