The 78-year-old woman testifying in Common Pleas Court yesterday looked like anyone's grandmother as she told of being raped, stomped and robbed in her own house in the city's Olney section. But she said she never saw her attacker and could not identify him.
"No, I didn't see his face at all. . . . I saw the man's hands. He had dark skin," she said.
She smiled, and appeared embarrassed as she looked over at the defendant, Kevin McKeither, 47, of the 2400 block of Napa Street in Strawberry Mansion, and said she had never seen him before.
Speaking with a vaguely Eastern European accent, pronouncing G's as K's, the Ukrainian immigrant said the June 5, 2007, attack came at the end of a shopping trip to the local Shop-Rite and Save-A-Lot with a 94-year-old friend. She dropped off her friend, parked in front of her house, and was unloading her groceries when she was grabbed from behind and thrown to the floor.
"I lay face down and then he started raping me," said the woman, who walks with a cane. "It seemed like an eternity. . . . I was sure I was going to die."
Her attacker then stomped her so violently that she had to spend 10 days at Albert Einstein Medical Center, and keep a nurse in her house for weeks after.
She had difficulty putting the rape into words and appeared mortified as the prosecution displayed her underwear to the jury as evidence.
Assistant District Attorney William Davis said McKeither, who had been staying in a house with relatives across the street, had probably been watching the woman before the attack. McKeither, Davis said, was videotaped in the neighborhood that day by an outside camera in front of a nearby business.
McKeither has been charged with rape, robbery, burglary, false imprisonment and related offenses.
But in her opening statement yesterday, defense attorney Beth McHugh said McKeither was not the man who committed the "unspeakable crime."
He did not fit the description given by the elderly woman, and the DNA evidence allegedly linking him to the crime had been contaminated.
"At a crime scene, everything is so disorganized," she said, adding that McKeither voluntarily gave his DNA swab.
The DNA was recovered from the victim's scarf and bra, which her attacker had used to tie her up.
"If they're trying to prove this crime, would he give his DNA? It is the action of an innocent man," she said.
The victim is scheduled to continue under direct examination today before Judge Lisa Rau.