Rape victim testifies about attack in Denison murder trial
RENO (AP) – A University of Nevada, Reno student – testifying Friday at the trial of a man charged with the murder of one woman and the sexual assault of two others – described how she was raped in a campus parking garage.
The woman, who graduates today from UNR, pointed to James Biela at the defense table when asked to identify the man who attacked her in October 2007 when she was 22.
Her account of the attack highlighted the third day of testimony in the Washoe County District Court trial of the former Sparks pipe fitter.
Biela, 28, is charged with killing Brianna Denison, 19, after abducting her from a friend’s house on the edge of campus in 2008. He also is charged with sexually assaulting two other women in 2007.
The UNR student testified that she had just completed a midterm exam when her attacker grabbed her and threw her to the ground between two vehicles in the parking garage.
“What’s happening? Oh, my God. What do I do?” she recalled thinking at the time. “I was terrified.
“He put it (gun) on my temple and told me not to say anything and pulled off the safety. He lifted up my skirt and he raped me,” the woman added.
She was 5 feet 2 inches tall and 120 pounds, and he was much larger, she said.
The attacker wore a sweat shirt with a hood pulled over his head, so she initially could not see his face.
“I had my eyes closed most of the time that he was on top of me,” the woman testified. “Once he stood up and was pointing the gun at me, I saw half his face.
“He told me that he liked my skirt, that it made me look good. Then he told me to stay there,” keeping the gun on her.
Before leaving, he took her underwear. She went home, took a shower and threw her clothes away.
“I didn’t want any memory of what had happened,” she said.
Asked whether she told police about the attack, she replied, “No, I didn’t want my body to be a crime scene.”
The only person the woman told was her roommate. When Denison vanished several months later, the roommate notified police about the attack.
When Biela was arrested in November 2008, the woman who was attacked saw a photo of him online.
“That was the face I saw in my nightmares,” she testified.
Biela also is charged with kidnapping another woman two months later outside her apartment near UNR, driving her to another location and sexually assaulting her.
Earlier Friday, Deputy Public Defender James Slocum pressed Lisa Smyth-Roam, a senior criminalist with the Washoe County crime lab, about the accuracy of its results.
Smyth-Roam testified that the lab was forced to shut down its DNA testing in late 2009 after problems surfaced over the testing kits it used.
She said the shutdown did not impact any samples and a subsequent audit found that the lab’s work met federal standards.