Lorena Bobbitt, sobbing as she testified on the first day of her husband's trial on a charge of marital sexual assault, gave a halting and sometimes flustered account yesterday of events leading up to the night she cut off her husband's penis after he allegedly raped her.
When pressed on some inconsistencies in her testimony by John Wayne Bobbitt's defense attorney, she lapsed into long silences. Once she said, "I don't understand," in her Ecuadorean accent. At other times, she simply cried.
She denied assertions by her husband's attorney, Greg Murphy, that she had refused several opportunities to leave her Manassas home and stay with other people, even though she had told them she feared that her husband might rape her and beat her again.
Lorena Bobbitt, 24, described to the Prince William Circuit Court jury of nine women and three men what she said were repeated incidents of rape by her husband. Her testimony concentrated on the five days before the act that brought international attention to the couple and their community 30 miles west of Washington.
Describing a rape that allegedly occurred the Friday before the June 23 wounding, Lorena Bobbitt said she resisted her husband in the bedroom of their apartment.
"I said I didn't want to have sex," she said. "He pushed me and held my hands. I said no twice." But her husband forced her to have intercourse with him, she said.
After he finished, "he said forced sex excites him," Lorena Bobbitt said.
Sitting less than 10 feet away, John Bobbitt, 26, occasionally shook his head no during his wife's testimony and tried to whisper to Murphy, who waved him off.
Lorena Bobbitt spent more than two hours on the stand. On Nov. 29, she is scheduled to return to the same courtroom to face charges in the malicious wounding of her husband.
Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert told the jury in his 10-minute opening statement that this was the case "of a woman tormented by her husband."
"It's up to you folks to determine who you believe," Ebert continued. "No one knows what went on in the bedroom but them."
Ebert also told the jury that Lorena Bobbitt was counseled by a doctor to seek a restraining order to keep her husband away. She began the process of getting the order the day before the alleged rape, but she dropped the matter when authorities told her it would take some time to complete the paperwork.
In his opening statement, Murphy told the jury, "You're going to see two Lorena Bobbitts." He described one as an immigrant eager for the American dream of a life of luxury. The other Lorena resented her husband's working-class roots, Murphy said.
Murphy told the jury that he was looking forward to the opportunity to finally tell his client's side of the story. John Bobbitt has given no press interviews. Lorena Bobbitt was interviewed on ABC's "20/20" and in Vanity Fair magazine.
Murphy said that after the alleged rape and her attack on her husband, Lorena Bobbitt did not go to a psychiatrist or another professional to seek counseling but instead hired a publicist to sell her story.
"That's what this case is about," Murphy said.
If convicted, John Bobbitt, a bar bouncer and former Marine, faces up to 20 years in jail. Lorena Bobbitt faces an identical penalty if she is convicted of malicious wounding at her trial later this month.
Most of yesterday afternoon was taken up by the prosecution's case.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Grace O'Brien questioned Lorena Bobbitt about the days that led up to the alleged rape and the mutilation.
Lorena Bobbitt said she had told four people, including a neighbor she hardly knew, that her husband had raped her during the weekend.
When pressed by Murphy about whether she resisted her husband on the night of the alleged assault, she said she didn't scream because she was embarrassed to let a house guest know that she was being attacked.
She contradicted Ebert's assertion that she had gone to a doctor that Friday because she was so shaky and breathless that she could not do her job as a manicurist.
Lorena Bobbitt said she was not shaky but had gone to the doctor because of a yeast infection.
In the early hours of June 23, she said, she was awakened by the sound of her bedroom door slamming as her husband came home. She spoke briefly to him, she said, and then "he was on top of me."
Lorena Bobbitt, who is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 93 pounds, said she couldn't move, because her husband, who weighs almost 200 pounds, was pinning her hands.
At that point in her testimony, she began to weep. A few feet away, her husband shook his head no.
She collected herself and continued, describing her trip to the kitchen after the alleged rape, and the knife she picked up from the counter top. She returned to the bedroom.
"I pulled the sheets up and cut him," she said.
John Bobbitt's severed penis was flung into a road by his wife as she fled the couple's home. It was recovered later by Prince William County rescue officials. During 9 1/2 hours of surgery, doctors reattached the organ.
So far, doctors have said, the operation seems to be a success, although it will be months before they know whether Bobbitt can recover sexual function.
Today the trial continues with more prosecution witnesses. Murphy is expected to begin the case for the defense, including testimony from John Bobbitt.
Judge Leroy R. Millette Jr. said the case could go to the jury as early as this afternoon.