The Steubenville rape trial got underway on Wednesday, and the defense immediately found itself in the unenviable position of arguing against the internet iconography of the case. Remember the infamous photo—the one in which two boys hold the accuser, seemingly incapacitated, by her wrists and ankles? Elayna Andres, a 17-year-old who was at the party where the photo was taken, says the picture isn't as menacing as it appears. From Yahoo:
"She was conscious," Andres testified. In fact, the girl wasn't actually carried anywhere like that, testimony concluded. The guys put her down after the photo was snapped. And Andres wasn't alarmed enough to prevent them all from leaving together.
And that's how this jury-less trial began: With the defense saying the awful photo everyone saw—which first surfaced on a true crime blog Prinnified—was only routine drunken humiliation.
The trial is expected to last through the weekend; in case you've forgotten, it centers on two high school football players who are accused of raping a teenage girl while she was drunk and incapacitated on the night of Aug. 11, 2012. The defense team for the accused, Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays, will argue that the girl was not too intoxicated to consent to sex.
Whatever advantage the defense may have gained from downplaying the significance of the photo was likely lost when two more witnesses, Patrick Pizzoferrato and Jake Howarth, took the stand:
It was just minutes later that she lay in the street in front of the house, puking on the pavement with her shirt off, wearing only a bra, as a group of boys watched.
That included Patrick Pizzoferrato, who isn't facing charges, yet acknowledged on the stand Wednesday that he pulled $3 from his pocket and offered it to anyone who would urinate on the girl.
One of the kids who, at least vocally, claimed to be considering the offer was Ma'lik Richmond.
"He was asking if he should piss on her," said witness Jake Howarth.
The defense, ran into more trouble when Marianne Hemmeter of the prosecution asked a well-timed redirect question of Pizzoferrato. From The New York Times:
Asked whether she had been unconscious, Mr. Pizzoferrato replied: “I think she was a little bit while she was on the couch” at a later party she attended.
Ms. Hemmeter, in a one-question redirect examination, then asked Mr. Pizzoferrato whether the girl “was the drunkest person in the room?”
“Yes,” he replied.
The trial will continue today with an 11-hour session.