A 28-year-old Army captain, who was raped and suffocated in her Northwest Washington home last year, tried to fight off her attackers after she was surprised in bed, according to a videotaped account of a D.C. man charged in her death.
The taped statement by Joseph D. Washington, 19, was played yesterday in D.C. Superior Court during a hearing on whether to permit the account to be introduced as evidence in Washington's trial on charges that he raped, robbed and murdered Camille DeRose Chapman. Chapman, found bound and with a a bag over her head, was killed in the early morning hours of Feb. 27, 1984, during a burglary attempt, according to court documents. Judge Fred McIntrye is expected to rule tomorrow on whether the statement can be introduced.
Mary Lou Soller, the public defender representing Washington, argued yesterday that the statement made on April 3, as well as several earlier ones in which Washington said only that he had entered the house after Chapman was dead, should not be allowed as evidence in court because Washington had little experience with police procedures and was pressured into making the statement. Soller said that Washington did not have a parent present during many of the interviews and that the police knew that Washington had a severe drinking problem.
She said Washington had told police he had drunk "too much" the night before his April 3 statement.
As the barely audible videotape was played yesterday, Washington, of 618 Jefferson St. NW, bowed his head and cried quietly.
On the tape, Washington said that he was in Chapman's house at 5403 Seventh St. NW with four other men on the day she was killed but that he did "not touch her" and that he left the house while Chapman was still alive. No one else has been charged in her death.
According to the tape, Washington said he and the other men broke into Chapman's house through the basement. He said the other men preceded him up the stairs to Chapman's second-floor bedroom. Washington said the men already had jumped on Chapman, who was lying in bed, and had raped her, according to the tape. Washington said on the tape that one of the men told him to "shut up."
"She opened her eyes and was surprised . . . , " Washington said on the tape, describing how Chapman tried to wrestle her assailants with her hands. At that point, Washington said he decided to leave the house because "from that time on I was scared," according to the tape.
Washington said on the tape that he and a couple of the other men returned later that day to take Chapman's brass bed, mattress, sheets and towels.
Washington's mother, who was with him during the April 3 questioning, appeared on the tape and was shown sobbing as her son described watching two men wrap a cord around Chapman's legs and tie them to a dresser.
"I don't want my mother to hear some of this," a barely audible Washington said on the tape as his mother rose from the table and he hugged her and cried with her. Washington's mother left the room and the detective interviewing him told him that if he felt like crying to cry and that they would take care of his mother, according to the tape. Washington yesterday wiped tears from his eyes as he watched his mother on the tape. His mother was not present in the courtroom.