Homeless Man On Trial
In Rape Of Girl In Casselberry
Dragged Into The Woods
Attacked When She Was 10
December 5, 2007
The 10-year-old girl was on her way to the store. It was dusk, and she was on an errand -- to buy macaroni for dinner.
She had borrowed her brother's scooter, the old-fashioned kind, and was gliding down the sidewalk. She had decided against taking a shortcut through the woods.
"It was starting to get dark," she told jurors Tuesday.
A man stepped out of the woods, a stranger. He said "Hola," hello in Spanish, then put his arm around her shoulders and began pulling her into the woods. She resisted, she said, and he grabbed her by the ponytail and dragged her backward into the dark.
That, according to prosecutors, is how the attack began, and the attacker, they say, was Antonio Rosales, 41, a fugitive suspected in a murder in Arizona. Rosales is on trial this week, charged with kidnapping the 10-year-old, raping her and trying to murder her.
Antonio Rosales & Lawyers
The girl, now 15, was the trial's first witness.
She tried to fight him off, she told jurors, but he leaned over and wrapped his hands around her throat.
"I remember kicking him . . . trying to get air for a few seconds," she said. "I don't remember much after that."
She blacked out.
When she came to, she was alone, she said. Her shirt had been pulled up, her pants were around her ankles, and she was covered with hundreds of fire-ant bites.
The girl told her story in a soft voice but without emotion. She also told it without identifying her attacker. No one asked her if the man who hurt her was in the courtroom even though Rosales sat just 40 feet away, a Spanish-language translator whispering in his ear.
The girl described her attacker in general terms, as a Hispanic man of average build and with dark hair.
The attack happened Nov. 1, 2003, in Casselberry. At the time, Rosales, an undocumented worker in construction from Guatemala, was homeless, according to authorities.
Two years earlier, he had disappeared from Tucson, Ariz., where he was accused of raping and strangling his 74-year-old landlady, whose body was found Aug. 9, 2001, in the home they shared. He is named in a warrant but has not been charged.
Tucson police Sgt. Fabian Pacheco said the 74-year-old also had been sexually assaulted and choked. Rosales confessed to both crimes, Pacheco said. Once Rosales' Florida trial is over, he will be extradited to Arizona, Pacheco said Tuesday.
That could be soon. The Sanford jury is expected to begin deliberations today.
The seven-member panel Tuesday heard an English translation of what Rosales told detectives he did with the 10--year-old. He had been drinking, he said, and pulled the girl into the woods. She fought and yelled, he said. He pulled down her clothing and touched her.
He let her go, he said, because she was so young and because she was screaming.
A state DNA expert testified that he found Rosales' DNA on the girl's breast. The analyst, Tim Petree with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said none of the samples he processed included semen.
A nurse practitioner who performed a rape exam on the girl testified that she found evidence consistent with a sexual assault.
If convicted, Rosales faces a sentence of life in prison.