Sunday school rape defendant has final pretrial hearing

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A Texarkana man accused of raping his former Sunday school teacher in 2015 was in court Monday for his final pretrial hearing.

Vasquez Dominique Hayes, 22, is scheduled for trial next week. Hayes allegedly wore sun glasses, a hoodie, and gloves when he pushed his way into the alleged victim’s Dudley Street home in Texarkana, Ark., Nov. 22, 2015, at 1 a.m. and assaulted her at gunpoint, according to a probable cause affidavit. When the woman told Hayes she didn’t have any cash, he allegedly forced her to ride in her own car to an ATM where he pulled $500 from her account, wrecking her car along the way, before dropping her in a Texarkana neighborhood in the night and driving away.

Hayes’ lawyers, Lawrence Walker and Crystal Okoro of Little Rock, don’t want the woman referred to as “victim” during the trial. Walker argued that the word could unfairly prejudice a jury. Circuit Judge Carlton Jones agreed to refer to the woman as “alleged victim” or “complainant.”

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Walker argued that written and recorded statements of Hayes’ wife should be ruled inadmissible because of “spousal privilege.” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell argued that a letter written to her by Hayes’ wife and recordings of jailhouse conversations between the couple are not covered under the state’s law regarding spousal privilege. Jones withheld ruling on the issue until trial, pointing out that, as Mitchell argued, the law has exceptions which could apply in Hayes’ case. Jones denied a portion of Walker’s motion which sought to exclude statements made by other members of his family.

Walker argued that the court should forbid any mention before the jury of other crimes or bad acts committed by Hayes. Mitchell agreed that the jury should not learn of a term of probation Hayes was serving for theft of property at the time of his arrest for rape during the trial. But Mitchell and Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Black argued that Hayes’ alleged use of drugs, specifically methamphetmine and/or ecstasy, on the night of the alleged offense is fair game. Jones agreed to limit references to Hayes allegedly selling drugs or using drugs on dates prior to the alleged attack should not be made but ruled that testimony concerning drug use by Hayes on the “date in question” should be admitted.

“There will be testimony about him stealing $500 dollars from her at an ATM. Purchasing drugs could be the motive for him,” Mitchell said.

Hayes’ decision to see the case through to a jury trial was among the last discussions at Monday’s hearing.

“Ms. Okoro reached out to me last week about a possible plea offer. I made one and based on discussions here today I believe that offer has been rejected. The state is formally withdrawing all offers at this time,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s comments prompted Walker to ask Jones to question Hayes on the record about his rejection of an offer to plead guilty. Hayes said on the record that he has consulted with his attorneys and freely made the choice to take the case to a jury.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. April 24. Hayes is charged with two counts of rape, two counts of theft of property, aggravated residential burglary, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. He faces multiple life sentences if convicted. Hayes is currently being held in the Miller County jail.

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