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Haley trial gets under way

March 6, 2013 • Local News

The Terry Haley trial began on Tuesday. Haley is charged with criminal sexual penetration of minor under the age under the age of 13 and enticement of a child. CSP of a child under the age of 13 is a first-degree felony; enticement of child is a misdemeanor. The charges stem from an alleged incident that occurred in February 2010. The case had gone through Magistrate Court twice, in part due to a confusion in dates.

In her opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Debra Hutchins described the relationship the 12-year-old girl had developed with Haley as a friend, who took her and other children to church, to movies or invite them into his home to play games. Hutchins said he gave them gifts of jewelry and toys.

On the night to the alleged incident, Haley took the victim to a movie. “He picked her up … it got later and later. Around 12 o’clock (midnight) the family made calls and still no answer.”

Hutchins noted it was four days before the victim confided to her family what had happened. Then she deferred to the victim. “Only she can make you understand what happened that night.”

Defense attorney Gary Mitchell asked the jurors to pay attention to what the “evidence will show, or more frankly, will not show.”

He pointed to confusion about the date of the incident. “Initially, all testified under oath that this occurred on Thursday (Feb. 11, 2010) night.” A night, he stated, for which Haley had an alibi, having flown to Houston as part of a job where he bought Bibles for the children.”

Mitchell said that Haley was popular with the neighborhood children and opened his home to them. The attorney said Haley had fallen asleep while the girl watched television and did not hear the phone when the family called. He argued that the incident “quite simply did not happen.”

The State’s first witness, the victim, took the stand and told the court that she and others went to church with Haley every Sunday and Wednesday for Bible study. She described their meeting through her friend. She also relayed a story when Haley brought the children to Roswell Mall. The victim testified she was looking at shoes, a pair of high heels, and she told Haley she wanted some, but her mother would not let her have them. Haley bought her the shoes.

On the night of the incident, she said Haley was supposed to take her and four other children to the movies. When he picked her up, the other children were not present. Haley said they would meet them at the theater. When they failed to arrive at the movie, he said that the others would meet them at his house. Haley then drove her to his house because he had a Valentine’s Day present for her.

The victim then described the incident. She admitted to having gaps in her memory particularly about dates due to the medications she had been taking.

In cross examination, attorney for the defense James Lowry asked her about purported abuse she had suffered as a small child. She replied, “I might have said I was abused. … My dad left bruises…he was always beating my mom.”

Lowry asked her about her medical conditions and the drugs she had taken during her childhood. He presented a list that included everything from drugs for anxiety disorders, pain medication to antibiotics and asthma inhalers.

She admitted she did not know what she had taken. She said if he could describe the drugs to her maybe she could tell him.

Hutchins objected to the line of questioning, citing relevancy of drugs she may have taken subsequent to the incident.

The victim said she could not remember all the medications she had taken. When he questioned her about her medical conditions and her memory, she replied, “I am not an animal, sir. … I don’t have impulses I have to control.”

Lowry also examined arguments she may have had with her parents. She said, “Of course, I argue with adults when I think I’m right and they are wrong.” Later she added, “Teens fight everything.”

Judge Charles C. Currier warned Lowry to keep his commentary to a minimum and to maintain relevancy as to time.

In redirect, Hutchins asked the victim if she had ever broken a bone that could have required pain medication. The girl reported she had broken her leg four times and sprained her wrist once. She also explained that it was her mother who administered the medications, so she never kept track of them.

In regards to her relationship with her mother, the victim said, “She was there when I needed her most.”

The prosecution then called Dr. Karen Carson, pediatrician, who told the court she had 16 years of experience in pediatrics and 8 years of experience giving sexual abuse examinations with Esperanza House. She described the procedures and then reported the injuries she found during her examination of the victim.

Mitchell questioned Carson about a study conducted in 2007 where it was stated certain findings were not always indicative of abuse. Carson countered with a study conducted by Joyce Adams which suggested that specific injuries still were consistent with sexual abuse, although she explained she was familiar with the 2007 study where McCain concluded that in some cases, where even the subject admitted to guilt, the examination revealed no injuries.

The State brought in Celia McCraw, manager of Galaxy 8, who checked computer listings for the movie the victim said she had seen with Haley. McCraw testified that the movie started on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, confirming the date of the incident.

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