ITHACA, NY — Opening statements in the trial for a Dryden man accused of breaking into a woman’s home and brutally attacking and raping her began Thursday after two days of jury selection.
Jeffrey Horton, 53, is charged with 10 felonies and six misdemeanors relating to alleged stalking, burglary, and rape in March last year.
According to District Attorney Diane Lama, Horton committed the crimes against the alleged victim when their nine-month romantic relationship came to an end.
Lama said that Horton became “unhinged” when the woman refused to give their relationship another chance, texting her incessantly and showing up to her workplace and home unannounced. On March 24, he allegedly made a false report to the Dryden Police Department that the woman intended to drive drunk.
Lama said that that night, the victim feared for her safety and locked all of her doors. Horton, she said, nonetheless entered her home through a dog door while she was sleeping, and proceeded to restrain her with rope.
"You should have locked all of your doors,” Horton allegedly told her.
“Over the course of the next two hours, he assaulted her physically and sexually,” said Lama.
She said the defendant turned himself into the police a few hours later and admitted to physically assaulting the woman but did not mention a sexual assault.
Lama said that testimony from the woman, her primary care doctor, a sexual assault examiner and forensic analysts will prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that Horton is guilty. The prosecution will also present calls and text messages between Horton, his family and friends that contain further details of the crimes.
Defense attorney Kenneth M. Moynihan told a staunchly different account of what happened between Horton and the woman.
He painted a picture of a troubled relationship that was constantly in flux, troubled and had occasional domestic violence.
“You’re going to hear that this is the course of their relationship over these nine months…That throughout this relationship, they were mean to each other, then they loved each other and then they were mean to each other and then they loved each other. It was a very passionate relationship,” Moynihan said.
To some degree, Moynihan admits that Horton’s behavior was wrong.
“You’re going to hear he was a jerk, a complete jerk. There’s no doubt about that,” Moynihan said.
He said that the night the alleged rape happened, Horton went into the woman's home through the backdoor and woke her up.
Their conversation escalated.
"It turns angry and it turns violent," Moynihan said.
Horton admitted to police, later, that he hit the woman and left her face bruised. He allegedly turned himself in to police because he both felt remorseful and thought the victim would call police anyway.
The brutal hours long rape she told police about later, Moynihan said, never happened.
"There's at least five times where she had an opportunity to tell people she was sexually assaulted and she didn’t,” Moynihan said, questioning why the victim waited to report the alleged crime.
"The credibility is what this is going to come down to," Moynihan said. "You're going to have to access, are the facts supportive of her version of his version?"
Jolene Almendarez contributed reporting.