Bibb rape case expected to end today

Two men are on trial in Bibb County this week after being accused of torturing and raping a Macon woman for several hours in June 2005.

James Harris, 34, and Wendell Simmons, 41, are each charged with rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated battery and aggravated assault, according to Bibb County Superior Court records.

A third man, 26-year-old Terry Sherrod Jackson, also is charged but his case is being tried separately.

The 53-year-old woman testified Monday that the men raped her repeatedly and sodomized her on the night of June 10, 2005, and the following morning.

But Harris and his longtime girlfriend testified Tuesday that he always has been at home by 11:30 p.m. to help care for the couple's autistic son, making it impossible that he was a party to the rape.

Harris admits he drove Simmons, Jackson and the woman to a house in the 700 block of Villa Esta Avenue on June 10, but said he left by about 11 p.m. and didn't go inside the house.

Simmons did not testify Tuesday and no defense evidence was entered on his behalf.

Simmons' lawyer, Randy Wynn, said in his opening statements Monday that his client passed a polygraph test following the incident after saying he wasn’t there when the alleged rape took place.

The woman testisfied that she was prescribed pain killers after injuring her back in 1988 and developed an addiction that led to her use of crack cocaine.

On June 10, 2005, she said she went to a friend's house where crack cocaine was being smoked and people were drinking alcohol.

She said she saw Simmons there and the two left together.

In his testimony, Harris said he did drive Simmons to a house where he picked up the woman.

The group drove to Simmons' house on Villa Esta Avenue off Houston Avenue where Harris said he'd gathered earlier in the evening with several other people to relax after a long work week.

Harris said he left soon after dropping off Simmons and the woman. He said Jackson lived nearby and had said he would walk home.

Harris expressed sympathy for the woman, but maintained that he is innocent.

"Something did happen to her," he said. "Nobody should have to go through that."

But the woman gave a different account of the evening in her testimony.

At the house, the woman said she talked with the men and drank alcohol until Simmons called her to a rear bedroom where the two had consensual sex in exchange for Simmons driving her home.

"He was saying I couldn’t go home with him unless I had sex with him," she said. "I’d have to walk."

But when the woman tried to leave the bedroom she said Simmons and Harris started pulling at her clothes and Harris beat her in the face with a handgun.

In the hours that followed, she said the three men raped her repeatedly.

Harris also burned her with a hot iron, she said.

She said the men had guns and Harris additionally threatened her with a knife.

While enduring multiple beatings, the woman said she feared for her life.

"I was pleading and begging for my life," she said. "They threatened me if I told anyone they'd hunt me down and kill me."

After losing consciousness several times, the woman said she awoke on the morning of June 11, 2005, and all the men were gone except for Simmons, who allowed her to leave.

She walked to a relative's house and called the police.

Ryan Mathis, the Macon police officer who responded to the relative's house, said the woman had visible injuries.

"Her face had some severe swelling," he said. "She seemed to be devastated."

Mathis said the woman pointed out the house where the rapes allegedly occurred while driving by in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

When officers went to the house, Mathis said they found Simmons nude on a bed in the bedroom.

Blood was found in the bedroom and in a bathroom, Mathis said.

The doctor and nurse who treated the woman at The Medical Center of Central Georgia testified Tuesday that her genital area was swollen, she had a fractured jaw and there were several bruises on her body.

Wendy Graham, the nurse, said the woman also had a second-degree burn on her buttocks in the shape of an iron and multiple hand-shaped bruises on her arms.

Closing arguments and jury deliberations are scheduled to begin today.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.