An elderly woman, dressed neatly in a black skirt suit, orange blouse and low heels, gingerly walked to the witness stand yesterday, and for more than an hour, told a jury and courtroom filled with strangers about the day a man shattered her sense of order, decency and humanity.
Now 78, she recalled how the man attacked her in her Olney home, raped her, tied her up, threw her pocketbook belongings on the floor and robbed her.
It was about 1:30 p.m on June 5, 2007. She had walked into the dining room of her home on Gale Street near Front when a man "jumped on me [from behind], put his hand on my mouth, took a knife, cut my dress and forced me on the floor," she testified before a Common Pleas jury.
Her face down, and all her clothes ripped off, the woman said the man "started raping me."
Authorities contend that Kevin McKeither, 48, of Napa Street near York, Strawberry Mansion, raped and robbed the woman, and stomped on her naked chest.
The woman testified that the man then ordered her to turn over, and raped her again. To one side, she said she could see a knife.
She didn't see the man's face, but saw his hands.
"His hands, well, they were laying on my body," she said as her face flushed red with emotion.
"I was so frightened, I was so shocked," she said on the opening day of McKeither's trial on rape, robbery and related charges.
She said that after she was raped, the man took scarves she had hanging from her basement door. He tied her hands behind her back with one. He tied another around her face so that it gripped her open mouth.
"The worst part was my feet," she said. He used her bra and "tied many, many knots" to bind her ankles.
Bound, kneeling and face forward toward the open basement door, the woman, then 77, testified that she thought the rapist "was going to push me down" the steps and "I was sure I was going to die at that time."
In her home, the man had also demanded money from her. She replied, "I have no money."
But then he spotted her pocketbook and dumped the contents on the floor and took her cash.
After the man left, the woman said she struggled for a long time to untie herself. Then, "I went upstairs and washed myself."
She put on a fresh summer dress. She called a friend. She called police.
She was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where she remained for 10 days.
Assistant District Attorney Bill Davis told jurors in his opening statement that DNA evidence collected from the woman's scarves and bra matched McKeither's DNA. He also said McKeither admitted being on her block that day, and that witnesses saw him.
McKeither, lawyers agreed, sometimes stayed with a sister, who lived almost directly across the street from the victim.
Public defender Elizabeth McHugh said in her opening statement that her client "did not rape, he did not rob" the victim.
She contended the "skin-cell" DNA that was collected "can be easily transferred." As an example, McHugh said if she touched a wooden bar in the courtroom, the court reporter could then touch the bar, pick up McHugh's DNA and transfer it to her keyboard.
McHugh also questioned the victim's description of the rapist and said it did not fit her client.
About 4:30 p.m., Davis asked Judge Lisa Rau if he could continue his direct examination of the victim today because she did not have her prescription eyeglasses with her. He wanted her to read the statement she gave police.
Hearing this, the woman asked the judge if someone else could read her statement to her.
"For me, it's like going through the same thing over again," she said in an exasperated voice.