The lawyer for a serial killings suspect cast doubt on the only witness linking the man to any crime, suggesting Monday that the woman's memory of the vicious beating she survived had "grown" over time.
Each side rested its case Monday in the latest trial of Derrick Todd Lee. Prosecutors presented eight days of testimony and evidence. Lawyers for Lee, who has pleaded not guilty to killing Charlotte Murray Pace, called no witnesses.
Lee's lawyers have challenged DNA evidence used to link him to the death of Pace and others in southern Louisiana. On Monday, one of his lawyers questioned the credibility of Diane Alexander, who told the jury she survived a beating and attempted rape by Lee in July 2002.
The lawyer, Bruce Unangst, noted changes in Alexander's statements to police since the 2002 attack. "Is it safe to say that your memory has grown of this event?" he asked.
Alexander, whose testimony has already helped convict Lee in the death of Geralyn DeSoto, described Monday how Lee forced his way into her home and beat her nearly unconscious before her son interrupted the attack and Lee fled.
"I didn't just decide to say this. I remember it happening," she said.
She said Lee showed up at her mobile home, saying he was lost on his way to a construction job. She said Lee forced his way inside, catching her by the throat and pushing her onto the floor.
"He whispered in my left ear and said, 'I've been watching you,' " Alexander testified, before pointing at Lee in court.
Lee stared at her, his chin resting on his hand.
Prosecutors said Alexander's testimony provides a witness who can describe how Lee gained access to women's homes and attacked them. Forensic analysts have said Lee's DNA matched evidence from the slayings of five women.
"While my other victims have spoken from the grave, this lady has been interpreting what they said," First Assistant District Attorney John Sinquefield said.
The defense noted differences in the descriptions Alexander gave of her attacker in statements she gave to hospital personnel, to police and in court.
Alexander said her vision of Lee as her attacker "was just as clear as though it was yesterday."
Lee was sentenced to life in prison in DeSoto's death. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the death of Pace, in May 2002.
Authorities say DNA evidence links Lee to the deaths of seven women from 1998 to 2003, but prosecutors have introduced evidence from only five killings in the Pace case.
"Thank God for DNA," said Lynne Marino, mother of Pam Kinamore, who was abducted from her home in July 2002. "Without that, there could have been a lot of doubt."
Mike Mitchell, a lawyer for Lee, said prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proof. Prosecutors disagreed.
"We believe we've got enough," Sinquefield said. "We believe we've proven Derrick Todd Lee is guilty of the first-degree murder of Charlotte Murray Pace."