DETROIT (WWJ) – The man accused in several Detroit rapes has been ordered to trial in two of them.
In 36th District Court, Friday, Judge Kenneth King heard evidence against accused serial rapist Raynard Coleman in a series of attacks that began on New Year’s Day.
Reporting from the courtroom during the preliminary hearing, WWJ’s Vickie Thomas said the judge read all 38 charges against the accused — and then warned everyone that he will not tolerate any outbursts or disturbances.
First to take the stand was Heather Vitta , a forensics expert with the Michigan State Police Crime Lab. A key witness in the case, Vitta testified about DNA evidence against Coleman — including a swab done on one the victims. Vitta testified that, so far, all the DNA evidence has matched the suspect.
Next to take the stand was a rape victim who described her ordeal to the court. She testified that she was on her way home from her brother’s house at 3 a.m. on January 4, when the suspect came up from behind her and put something in her back that she thought was a gun.
She said she tried to run but was told, “If you do it again, I’m going to kill you.”
She said the assailant then took her into an alley and forced her to participate in several sexual acts, before throwing her pants over a fence.
The second victim to testify, Friday, said she was waiting for a bus at about 5:30 a.m. on New Years Day, when the suspect forced her to the back of an abandoned house — but she fought back.
“We (were) still fightin’, because he’s still swinging on me and I’m swinging back. But he’s hitting me more than I’m hitting him,” the woman said.
She said she started screaming and the man ran off. “I basically fell to my knees at the corner… a car was driving past. I think that’s why he stopped because he seen I was naked,” she said.
The first two victims to testify addmitted to the judge that they were drinking and smoking marijuana before they were attacked.
The 31-year-old Coleman is charged with five of seven rapes that took place on the city’s east and northeast sides, as well as an attempted rape. Those are just among 30 charges, including kidnapping and robbery, that the ex-convict faces.
Coleman’s attorney, James Gaylen, Jr., said it was prison that made his client a monster.
Speaking to reporters, Gaylen said “this job’s already terribly, terribly tough because of the nature of the crimes involved. If I wasn’t a true professional, I’d have a very, very hard time dealing with this. I have to wear two sets of shoes. I’m a citizen, I’ve got family on (the) Detroit Police Department and I’ve got a cousin who’s an investigator … as a citizen, as a human being, these types of crimes are intolerable to me. As a defense attorney, I have an ethical obligation to do my job.”
Gaylen has admitted that this is a tough case. He acknowledged in court that he’s not “real good at this DNA stuff.”
Coleman had spent the better part of half of his life in prison for attempted murder and other charges. He was just paroled in 2009 after serving 14 years for the attempted murder charge.
He got out well before the end of the maximum of his sentence, but he did serve more than the minimum, so it’s not clear whether he was paroled early or whether Wayne County objected to his early release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.