Rape trial Day 4: Former friend of victim testifies

STEUBENVILLE — The prosecution delayed the presentation of its evidence in the Steubenville rape trail this morning to allow the defense to elicit testimony from one of its witnesses.

The witness, Gianna Anile, was one of several West Virginia witnesses who initially did not wish to testify but was later successfully subpoenaed for their testimony in the case, which is being heard by visiting Judge Thomas Lipps in the Jefferson County Justice Center.

Trent Mays, 17, of Bloomingdale and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville, are facing rape charges in connection with an incident involving a 16-year-old Weirton girl that allegedly happened the night of Aug. 11-12. Mays also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the alleged victim in an outgoing message on the cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges.

Anile, a Weirton Madonna High School student and former friend of the alleged victim, testified that she was a close friend and ended up accompanying the alleged victim to a party Aug. 11. Anile, called to the stand by defense attorney Walter Madison, who represents Richmond, said she went with the alleged victim and another juvenile to purchase frozen non-alcoholic drinks at a convenience store prior to the party.

At the party, Anile testified that the alleged victim drank liquor and beer, and at one point saw the alleged victim drinking directly from a bottle of liquor. While at the party at the Belardine home on Wilma Avenue, Anile said she tried to get the alleged victim to leave with her, but was at one point shoved away. She told Madison, “I noticed she was very drunk and noticed her on the ground rolling around.”

Anile said she became irritated that the alleged victim wanted to stay, and Anile said she left the party to spend the night at a nearby location.

The next morning, Anile testified that she heard various accounts of what had happened to the alleged victim during her absence and grew angry and concerned. Anile said she picked up the alleged victim along with Mays and Richmond from the Cole residence outside of Wintersville. Anile testified that the alleged victim was in the back seat of the vehicle, with Mays and Richmond sitting on either side of her.

Anile told Madison and the court that at the time the alleged victim’s demeanor seemed appropriate and no one seemed to be upset. Anile testified that Richmond and Mays were dropped off and she initiated a conversation with the alleged victim on what occurred that night. Anile testified that she yelled at the victim, “Because I was upset at her actions the night before.”

The victim reportedly told Anile that, “We didn’t have sex, I swear,” but testimony showed the alleged victim later claimed she didn’t know what happened that evening.

Madison attempted to paint the alleged victim as being less than truthful on other occasions. When asked if the alleged victim has a reputation for telling lies, Anile testified, “Yes, by some people.”

Anile said, “I was still mad what she did and was telling her about what happened on the Internet.”

When asked by Madison if Anile and the alleged victim are still close friends, Anile responded, “We don’t speak anymore.”

The court went into a one-hour recess to allow Anile the opportunity to listen to an audio recording she made for investigators to see if would help refresh her memory about certain events.

Lipps allowed the review of the audio, saying, “The court is interested in getting to the truth of this matter.”

The prosecution had not an opportunity cross-examine the witness.

The defense is expected to call at least one other West Virginia resident to testify. The prosecution is expected to call the alleged victim as its final witness in the case.

The trial, which began Wednesday, is expected to continue into Sunday, and could run into Monday.