A woman testified Monday for the second time in three years that a Baton Rouge man raped her in 2003 when she was 15 after giving her a ride home from a Sunday church service.
The woman, now 33, described the alleged sexual assault at the hands of Sedrick Hills, now 46, as an out-of-body experience.
"I'm frozen in shock. This is really happening. I don't want this to happen. My body was there and I'm on the sideline looking," she said as an East Baton Rouge Parish jury listened intently and Hills and his legal team jotted down notes on yellow legal pads.
Hills, who is charged with forcible rape and another sexual assault-related charge, is being retried after his non-unanimous 2018 conviction on both counts and resulting 12-year prison sentence were thrown out last year.
For the second time in as many years, a convicted Baton Rouge rapist has been granted a new trial — this time because the jury's verdicts were…
"I was scared," the woman, who now has a teenage child of her own, continued. "I did not know why this was happening. I was scared and nobody was there."
She said she eventually escaped by telling Hills she needed to go to the bathroom. She calmly walked, then frantically ran to her parents' bedroom, locked the door and went into the master bathroom and locked that door as well.
"He's at the door, he's banging on the door. `Open the door, open the door. You better do it now,'" she recalled Hills yelling outside the bedroom. "I've never been in fear like that in my life."
The woman said she eventually exited the bathroom and called a relative from a phone in the bedroom. She said other family members arrived as well, as did the police. She was examined by a doctor at a hospital.
But nothing happened in the case for another decade.
"Nobody in my family talked about it again. Nothing happened for 10 years. People acted like it didn't happen," she testified.
The Advocate does not identify victims of rape and other sexual crimes.
Hills was formally charged in 2014 when DNA linked him to the sexual assault, authorities have said.
A Louisiana State Police Crime Lab DNA analyst testified Monday that DNA came in the form of sperm linked Hills to the 2003 sexual assault. Marci Herndon said a single-source male profile was obtained from the sperm collected from the victim's body in 2003, and a DNA sample collected from Hills in 2014 matched that profile.
Non-unanimous jury verdicts were still legal in Louisiana in 2018 when Hills was found guilty, but the U.S. Supreme Court last year in a New Orleans case outlawed split-jury verdicts, and Hills was awarded a new trial.
Hills had previously been awarded a new trial by the original trial judge, Trudy White, after a Black female juror alleged that a White male juror made racist remarks about Hills, who is Black. Those claims were later found not to be credible, and the judge’s ruling was reversed.
An ad hoc judge who later sentenced Hills raised eyebrows when he told Hills he would consider reducing his 12-year prison term if he paid $150,000 to his victim, and if she accepted. The victim later said outside the courtroom that she wasn't interested in receiving any money from Hills.
A retired judge who raised eyebrows last week when he told a convicted Baton Rouge rapist he would consider reducing a 12-year prison term if …
Retired Judge Bruce Bennett explained later in a court filing that he was merely trying to empower the victim "to control her own economic destiny and receive compensation for this reprehensible and life-changing action." Bennett stressed that the choice was hers and hers alone, and said the option was neither a form of bribery by the defendant nor extortion by the victim.