Judith Stevens lowered her head to the witness stand for a moment yesterday, swallowed, and told an Arlington County Circuit Court jury about the May morning in 1975 when a stranger got in her car, threatened her with a knife, forced her to commit sodomy and raped her twice in a deserted lot in Crystal City.
Her words were the first testimony in the trial of Milton N. Bullock on charges of abduction, rape and sodomy -- a case delayed for 10 years while authorities here tried to extradite Bullock, who fled the United States for Europe shortly after his arrest.
At the time, Bullock, 34, claimed he would not receive a fair trial in Virginia because he is black. In an interview this week, Bullock said he still believes that is true.
Stevens drew attention in 1977 when she became the first rape victim in Virginia to be publicly identified and to speak out about her experience before the State Crime Commission.
Yesterday was the second time she has told her story in court. A trial earlier this year lasted one day, then ended abruptly in a mistrial when a juror said he felt uncomfortable serving on the all-white jury.
Stevens, 35, her voice choking with emotion throughout 45 minutes of testimony yesterday, recalled driving home from Georgetown about 2 a.m. on May 15, 1975, when a car behind her began flashing its lights. Thinking it was a friend who might have become lost, she said she pulled over to the side of Rte. 110 near the Pentagon.
She said a stranger approached her car, "came up to the windows and stuck a knife in my face -- and I panicked," she said.
Defense attorney Thomas J. Harrigan told the jury to question the "reasonableness," as well as the motives, of Stevens' testimony.
"There is an underlying motive in this case. We will show that she believes this is a cause," he said in opening arguments. "I think you will find that something is not right."
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Helen Fahey told the jury that Stevens is certain of her story. "During that time approximately two hours she had ample opportunity to see him, ample opportunity to look at his face. She will tell you there is absolutely no question in her mind that this is the individual."
The trial is scheduled to resume this morning.