Testimony begins in trial of man accused of raping former teacher

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A woman who claims she was raped and robbed at gunpoint by a man she once taught in a Texarkana, Ark., church-based school, gave a disturbing account Tuesday during the first day of testimony.

The woman said Vasquez Dominique Hayes was approximately 12 when she began teaching him in history and English classes at the Apostolic Lighthouse Church in Texarkana, Ark., after she and her former spouse relocated from California in 2006, in response to questions from Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell. The alleged victim said Hayes was one of many children who enjoyed visiting her home, within walking distance of the church, to see her pets and ride horses with her ex-husband.

The woman said she attributed some noises she heard while taking a shower shortly after midnight Nov. 22, 2015, to the wind outside or stray cats. When her dog began scratching at the back door, she thought he needed to relieve himself. The woman said she told herself she was being paranoid when she grabbed her licensed handgun before opening the door for her dog. When her door stuck, the woman said she laid her pistol on the dryer and used two hands. When the woman opened the door, it blocked the dryer and the gun.

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A man clad in a tightly drawn hoodie, dark sunglasses and a mask was pointing a gun at her, the woman testified. The woman said the man told her to go back inside.

“I thought it was odd he didn’t ask if anybody else was here, and that he didn’t check,” the woman said.

The woman said she tried to give her purse, computers, and digital camera to the man but he was interested in something else. The woman said the man turned her around, put the gun to her head, and walked her straight to her bedroom, as if he already knew where it was.

“He was lowering his voice, it wasn’t natural, it was growly and sounded fake,” the woman said. “He threatened me, ‘If you do anything stupid I’ll kill you. If you fight me, I’ll kill you.'”

The woman said the attacker claimed his gun was outfitted with a silencer and threatened to kill her dog when he barked and snapped at him, prompting the woman to put the dog in his crate.

The woman described a violent and brutal sexual assault which involved crass and demeaning language. The woman described feeling her attacker scratch her back with his pistol and the feel of the hoodie’s fabric on her skin. The woman said her assailant took it as a “compliment” when she gagged during the assault.

“I remember feeling like after a while I wasn’t even part of my own body,” the woman testified. “I was numb.”

The woman said she hoped her ordeal was over when the man asked her for money. The alleged victim said the man rebuked her when she started to walk to her kitchen, where her purse was, without putting the pajama pants and panties back on that he had removed. The woman said she grabbed a dress and pulled it over the night shirt she had on and retrieved her hand bag. When the man realized she had no cash, she offered her PIN number, debit and credit cards.

“The only thing I could think of was, if I leave this house with him I’m dead,” the woman testified.

The woman said her assailant asked her where she banks after forcing her to ride in her own car as he drove. Hayes allegedly drove the woman to the Trinity Blvd. branch of Red River Federal Credit Union and pulled the car in so that the passenger side faced the ATM. The woman testified that she gave Hayes $500 in cash, the maximum daily withdrawal.

The woman said Hayes threatened to throw her in the river when she pleaded with him to release her. Hayes allegedly drove around aimlessly after the bank visit, becoming spooked after seeing a group of police officers gathered at a probable car accident site. The woman said her attacker began driving erratically and ran head-on into a welded metal gate in a church parking lot, cracking her windshield and damaging the hood of her 2010 Nissan Altima.

The woman said she feared for her life and was not hesitant when the man pulled over and told her to get out. After watching him drive away in her car from the cover of bushes, the woman ran to the closest house and began banging on the door, she testified.

Deanna and Romero Cardenas testified that the woman who woke them at approximately 2:30 or 3 a.m. was “frantic,” and in a “terrified state,” as she bent down in a corner near the porch and side of the house.

Texarkana, Ark., patrol officer Levi Saxby said the woman he approached at the Cardenas’ home on Fairview Ave. was hysterical and appeared to have just suffered a major traumatic event. The jury of eight men and four women were shown video of footage from Saxby’s body cam video which showed the woman in distress, crying with her hands over her face, as she described her car and related basic details to Saxby.

The alleged victim said she waited for several hours for treatment after arriving at the St. Michael’s Hospital emergency room.

“It’s like a second rape,” the woman said of her experience undergoing a sexual assault examination.

The woman said she was shocked when she learned days after the assault that Hayes is the man police believe is responsible. A friend of Hayes’ since childhood, Demetri Tommie, gave testimony which shed light on Hayes’ alleged state of mind.

Tommie testified he has known Hayes since he was very young because the two attended the same church and same church affiliated school. Tommie said Hayes often expressed a desire to marry the alleged victim even when they were kids on the playground and that Hayes continued to think of her into adulthood and after he had married.

Tommie said Hayes turned the conversation to the alleged victim again and again during a short fishing trip a couple of weeks before the alleged rape. Tommie said Hayes didn’t speak of his wife in the way he spoke of the alleged victim. Tommie testified that he loaned Hayes an airsoft pistol a couple of days before the woman was attacked. Under questioning from Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Black, Tommie identified a pistol in a photograph of one collected from the woman’s car when it was discovered a few days after the assault as the one he gave to Hayes.

Hayes’ defense team, Lawrence Walker and Crystal Okoro of Little Rock, asked Circuit Judge Carlton Jones to declare a mistrial in the case after Mitchell referred to the woman as “victim” rather than “alleged victim” as the judge had ordered at a pretrial hearing. Jones ruled that the “slip of tongue” did not deprive Hayes of a fair trial and denied the motion.

Testimony is scheduled to resume this morning at the Miller County courthouse. Hayes faces multiple life sentences if found guilty of two counts of rape, aggravated residential burglary and aggravated robbery. Additional prison time is possible if Hayes is convicted of two counts of theft of property and kidnapping.

Hayes is currently being held in the Miller County jail.

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