A 41-year-old married mother of two young girls took the witness stand in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday to face the man accused of raping her during a home invasion in the District’s Hill East neighborhood last October.
“I thought I was going to die,” she told the jury of the moment when the man choked her, dragged her along a hardwood floor and threw her onto her bed. After the attack, she needed a morphine drip and underwent surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center to repair fractures in her eye socket and cheekbone.
The alleged perpetrator — 21-year-old Antwon Pitt — has an extensive criminal history which was detailed in an article in The Washington Post. Pitt has had eight arrests and a robbery conviction over a span of four years.
Last summer, Pitt was released from prison. He cut off his GPS bracelet and failed to show up for court-mandated anger management sessions and drug testing. Then, Pitt was arrested in a D.C. library on charges of possessing synthetic marijuana and tampering with his bracelet. D.C. Magistrate Judge William Nooter, who was considering only the drug charge but was aware of the tampering allegations, denied a prosecutor’s request to hold Pitt and released him back into the community Oct. 2, despite a written warning about the risks from the Pretrial Services Agency.
The rape occurred on the afternoon of Oct. 13. Pitt was arrested early the next day, and he had the victim’s cellphone in his possession, according to prosecutors.
Pitt faces eight charges in the attack, including first-degree sexual abuse, aggravated assault, burglary and robbery.
As the victim began her testimony Wednesday morning, she took several deep breaths before recounting the attack. She did not look at Pitt.
Pitt, wearing a black suit with a blue and gray striped tie, watched her and occasionally wrote on a legal notepad.
Defense attorney Kevann Gardner said during his opening statement that Pitt is not the man who committed the rape. Gardner said that Pitt is “100 percent completely innocent” and was charged with the crime after a “rush to judgment” by police. The attorney said there is no physical evidence in the victim’s apartment that links Pitt to the crime. Prosecutors say that the victim’s DNA was found on Pitt’s gloves.
On the morning of the rape, the victim — a college professor — had dropped off her young daughters at day care and at school. She forgot to lock her door after returning to her condominium inside a three-story building on A Street SE, she testified.
She worked from home that day. Just after 2 p.m., she heard a noise — the sound of her daughter’s jingle bell that was hanging from a velvet cord on a key rack near the front door.
“There was no reason for that bell to be ringing,” she testified. “I thought, ‘This is not right.’ ”
The woman walked toward the front door, where she saw a tall, black man, wearing brown fuzzy gloves, gray denim pants and a gray T-shirt with a geometric logo. Earlier that day, she had called the insurance company about a bathroom leak. She thought perhaps the man was the insurance adjuster, or maybe a man who had been mowing the lawn outside.
“What are you doing here?” she said she asked him.
“I’m looking for someone,” he answered.
The man asked her who else lived in the home. Her husband and daughters, she answered. He then asked if her husband was home.
“I feel like an idiot,” the woman told the jury. “But I said, ‘No, he’s not.’ ”
It was then, she told the jury, that she realized she was in trouble.
The man pushed her up against a wall. Then he dragged her as he choked her with one hand and covered her mouth with his other hand.
“I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I thought he was going to suffocate or strangle me.”
She said she tried to punch and kick the man. He tossed her onto her bed. At the time, she testified, she felt dizzy and had an “out-of-body” experience. She said she envisioned the ocean and birds. Then, she heard the man speaking to her.
“If you want to live, stop fighting,” he said.
She said she realized that she had a chance to survive.
“I wanted to live,” she told the jury.
She realized she was naked from the waist down, except for one sock. Then, she went limp.
“I said, ‘I have two daughters. Please don’t leave them without a mother. Please don’t kill me,’” she said.
Then, she recounted, she told the man to put on a condom. She began sobbing on the witness stand, and a prosecutor brought her a tissue.
The man put on a condom and raped her, she said. He came back into the room with her cellphone and demanded her passcode. Then, he left.
The image of his face began fading in the hours after the attack, she told the jury. Now, when she tries to picture him, she can only envision a mask or the face of someone she knows.