Judge Don Poole will take some time to consider whether or not to use a particular piece of evidence in the case against a Chattanooga man accused of rape.
Anthony LeBron Vance, 54, sat silently as attorneys and witnesses presented their cases for and against the use of a photo lineup as permissible evidence during his upcoming trial. Vance allegedly raped a Chattanooga woman in January.
The controversy surrounding this collection of papers was the way it was created, and the circumstances of how it was presented to the victim.
Once of the witnesses was Special Victims Unit detective Damarise Goehring, who assisted with the investigation and created the police lineup. Ms. Goehring initially met the victim at Parkridge hospital, where she was recovering. Using information obtained about the physical profile of the attacker, she searched various databases and created a photographic roster of possible suspects.
When the investigator compiled the pictures, she included the most recent image of Vance, which was taken the same day as the alleged rape (he was caught stealing from a Chattanooga business). He was wearing a striped shirt, and was the only man in the lineup wearing that kind of shirt.
The victim also gave testimony, and recounted the events of that day.
When she entered the courtroom, the victim almost immediately pointed to Vance and labelled him as the man who raped her.
According to the victim, she got off of the bus at around 6:50 a.m., and was walking home. During this time, Vance began to approach her, and asked her questions about where he could find a bus, and if she wanted to buy drugs from him.
She pointed him in the direction of the nearest bus stop. After this, he attacked her from behind, and drug her to the bushes behind the duplex where she lived. After Vance initially covered her head with a jacket, she was able to get it off.
Vance’s attorney Mike Acuff asked her if she had been able to see her attacker’s face clearly due to it being dark, her head being initially covered, and the attack starting from behind.
The victim had a very strong reaction and response to that question. How could she not see his face? She had been inches from it throughout the assault, she responded.
Prosecuting attorney Andrew Coyle then continued to ask about the rape. After a man walked outside of his apartment in order to start his car, Vance stopped the assault. He began to help the victim put her clothes back on, and allegedly said, “Oh, you’re the wrong person. Can you pray with me, and forgive me?”
“How can you forgive someone who raped you, and then asks you to pray with him?” asked the incredulous victim to the courtroom.
Vance then snuck away, and the victim was quickly taken to the hospital shortly thereafter. When investigator Goehring arrived with the photo lineup a few days later, the victim “immediately broke down and kept pointing at his picture,” according to the investigator.
The victim said she recognized him not only due to his face, but also his shirt, which was the same one he was wearing when he assaulted her.
Attorney Acuff argued the nature of the photo lineup was flawed, since the victim seemed to remember Vance’s appearance based on clothing, rather than his face. He argued it was unfair for his client to be the only person in the lineup with that kind of shirt.
Prosecutor Coyle did somewhat agree with this argument, but also pointed out the large amount of other evidence corroborating the victim’s story.
A DNA test found Vance’s DNA on her body. And Vance’s GPS tracker (he was on supervised probation at the time) showed he was at the exact location at the exact time the alleged rape occurred.
Because of this, prosecutor Coyle believed the police lineup was usable as evidence in the upcoming trial.
After hearing all of the testimony and arguments, Judge Poole said he would review the case. He set the next date for Aug. 7, a few weeks before the trial, as a day when the two sides could meet and go through any other motions they would wish to discuss.