Hands clasped on her lap, dry eyes facing the jury, a 55-year-old home health care nurse Thursday described being raped at gunpoint by several men two years ago as she knelt naked on the ground in a vacant house in the Zion City neighborhood.
Two of the alleged rapists, 19-year-old Glenn Elliott and 23-year-old Jermaine Rumley, sat in crisp white dress shirts and ties at the defense table as the mother of four hit playback on a memory she said haunts her daily.
After rejecting plea deals Wednesday, the cousins became the first defendants to stand trial in a shocking case of allegedly random sexual violence that has spawned plea deals and lengthy prison sentences for two of the five defendants.
One of them, David Quinn, testified Thursday to watching Elliott, Rumley and another man, Darren Holmes, sexually assault the middle-aged woman.
The New Orleans Advocate does not name alleged sexual-assault victims.
Quinn, now 20, pleaded guilty in September to armed robbery and received an 18-year prison sentence, contingent on his testimony.
Holmes — the alleged gunman and ringleader — received a 40-year prison sentence in March after pleading guilty to forcible rape, second-degree kidnapping and armed robbery.
He made an unusual cameo appearance Thursday, ambling in front of the jury of seven women and five men, then turning so Quinn could identify him, before walking back out of Criminal District Court Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson’s courtroom.
A fifth man, 24-year-old Brian Beasley, is scheduled for trial next week. Quinn denied Thursday that Beasley was there during the robbery and rape.
Quinn admitted to helping orchestrate the robbery after leaving school early on Jan. 26, 2012, to smoke marijuana with friends. They decided they wanted to pull off a stick-up but missed an earlier try at some “Mexicans,” he testified, when his cohorts were “clowning around with the guns, playing like ‘007.’ ”
Quinn said he was the first one to spot the woman in her car. Holmes, he said, approached the car and pointed his gun at her.
Quinn admitted being in the vacant, trash-strewn house where Holmes allegedly took the woman, but he denied participating in a sexual attack.
Once inside, Holmes “had the firearm aimed toward her head. I walked towards the lady, grabbed her head to look at her. I said, ‘She’s an old lady.’ I stepped off,” he said.
Elliott and Rumley didn’t, prosecutors allege.
As her family members sat in the front row of the courtroom gallery, the woman said she had parked her car and was gathering up her gear before a weekly home visit to a patient when she saw a man pointing a gun at her. A handkerchief covered his face. “Gimme your money, bitch,” she said he barked.
He snatched her cellphone, then got in the car and rooted through the backseat, she testified. He told her to drive and then to park in the driveway of the house in the 1300 block of South Gayoso Street.
He shoved away some boards that had covered a ground-floor window, escorted her inside at gunpoint and walked toward the middle of the room, she testified.
“This is the part I’ll never forget, this was such a shock to me: He said, ‘Take off all your clothing.’ I guess I must have been subconsciously hoping to keep my underclothes on. He said, ‘All of them.’ ”
She took off her shirt and pants and stood naked in the room.
“He unbuttoned his pants, showed me his genitals.” She said he ordered her to perform oral sex. “I just couldn’t believe where I was, what was happening. I was just thinkin, ‘I’m going to keep following instructions because I don’t want to die.’ ”
It went on. How long, she couldn’t say. How many men, she couldn’t tell, she testified, although she earlier estimated to police that between four and six men raped her.
Another person — who Quinn pegged as Rumley — also received oral sex from her, trading off with Holmes.
She told the jury she heard unbuckling behind her. She never saw their faces, she said.
“I was told not to look.”
The woman said she was raped over and over. She screamed and cried in pain, she said. The sounds seemed foreign to her.
“They would move, and then another person. And it kept going on like that for a good while,” she said.
“ ‘Oh, I think she likes it,’ ” she recalled hearing. “Demeaning things like that. I wasn’t doing it right. ‘Try harder.’ ”
“It was just nonstop. I heard them say, ‘This is sweet. We ought to take this to Texas,’ ” she testified. “I wasn’t sure they were talking about my car or me.”
Her imagination started firing.
“Maybe they would torture me and throw me out on the interstate and a hunter would find me,” she thought at the time. She envisioned her sons viewing crime photos of her splayed out on the ground, hair tousled — all on the Internet.
“It kind of goes there, like a movie, all the scenarios,” she said. “I just thought, you know, how is it going to end?”
Holmes, Elliott and another Orleans Parish jail inmate, Dwayne Miller, also were accused in two jailhouse rapes last year. Holmes pleaded guilty in those, along with his plea in the 2012 robbery and rape. The jail-rape cases against Elliott and Miller remain pending.
Prosecutors Robert Moore and Payal Patel rested their case late Thursday against Elliott and Rumley, who are represented by attorneys David Capasso and George Gates.
Questioned by Gates, the woman tried to brush aside suggestions that she contradicted her earlier statement over the number of alleged rapists. Authorities have linked DNA from a rape exam with Elliott. His attorneys have suggested a defense of consent for him, while Rumley has an alibi witness on his side: his mother, although the nature of the alibi is unclear.
When she thought her attackers were gone, the woman testified, she stood in the middle of the room and started to put her clothes back on but then heard someone say, “I didn’t tell you to get dressed, bitch.”
Eventually, she heard a car drive off and slid outside, she said. Her keys were gone — Quinn said Holmes had tossed them in the canal — and so was her phone with all her numbers.
More than two years later, she’s never gone back to nursing.
“I can’t keep a thought straight,” she said. “You just feel different inside, and you wonder if you’ll ever feel the same again. I don’t want to do anything anymore. It’s just like nothing interests me.”
The trial is expected to continue Friday.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.